Pictured from left are Tag, Raven, Niki, Jack and Caeli. This was taken right before I released them so they could run in the fields.
I started the day like I do most, with the dog walk. But on this day, because the sun was shining and because I had time, I extended the walk to the far hay field and lingered as the Border collies hunted for mice, rolled in the grass and chased each other.
I followed that up with several rounds of herding training--a treat when the weather is warm, the ground is soft, but not muddy.
I took time to admire the horses, soaking in the afternoon sunshine.
Lily, like always, is front and center. Jet is behind her.
Noticing their bushy bridle paths, I took them in the barn for hair cuts, grooming and lots of peppermint treats. Is there anything more soothing than listening to the barn radio and the swish of scissors while standing over a horse?
And, while being lulled by the horses, I made my New Year's Day mistake.
I addressed the chicken issue.
For months now, I've been squabbling with the hens who insist on sleeping in the horse barn, rather than the chicken coop. Carrying hens from the horse barn to the chicken coop has become a nightly chore.
I decided to put a stop to that and move them to the other chicken house, the chicken house that has a fenced yard and no direct access to the sheep and horse barn.
I spent New Year's Day preparing the chicken's new home. I cleaned it out, spread fresh straw on the floor and stapled plastic over an opening to cut down on drafts. That evening, I carried 2 roosters and 16 hens to their new home.
This morning, they roamed their new yard and gobbled up butternut squash seeds and apple cores.
They seemed happy, they seemed content.I was happy, I was content.
But as dusk approached, one hen flew over the fence and into the yard. Another flew over the fence and marched to the horse barn.
And so this evening, I did what I'd done on New Year's Day: I moved a chicken from the horse barn to the chicken coop.