The girls are three months old now and came hopping out quite socially when I arrived. Their coop is a covered hutch about 6 x 6 feet square adjoined to a nice run that keeps out the racoons, but not the rain. Inside the hutch smells sweet, of damp cedar chips. I left the coop gate open on my way to clean out the water dish, and in seconds two of the hens were out in the yard and pecking at the grass. It was clearly hard-wired behavior. Quite the contrast with the commercial “free-range” meat chickens you read about who live in large warehouses with twenty thousand kin, most of whom never make it outside to the stretch of grass that passes for their “range”. Anyway, I rounded the girls up and herded them back into their coop, set down their fresh water, and admired the wooden egg-laying boxes my friend had built, foreshadowing things to come.

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