We've established that my attempt at netting in the hens was rubbish. The idea was good though, so this weekend hubby and I were on a mission. A quick trip to the local DIY place later, the ever tolerant husband got on with building a proper barrier. Using short wooden stakes and some pvc netting, he managed to neatly cordon off the garden into two distinct sections; the convent and grounds, and the human garden. Brilliant.
I methodically sought out small fluffy chickens and popped them into their new area. At first, they didn't notice the new improved fence and assumed that I was just moving them around for fun. There were no complaints, just resigned clucking as I plonked them down in chicken prison. The peace didn't last long, however.
Maude was the first to notice that the new fence wasn't so easily breached as the 'cobwebs on sticks' attempt I'd made. She bokked to the others in a 'hang on, girls, I'm not liking this!' manner. Mabel waddled over, giving the netting an experimental peck. Finding the plastic unyielding, she took up a war cry. Within minutes, five pissed off hens were speedily trotting along the whole length of the barrier, looking for an out. Back and forth they went, looking very much like they should have had little tin cups in their beaks to clang along the bars of their new prison. Oh, the guilt.
Maeve was cheeping on the lawn, in the priviliged position of being allowed on the human side of the fence. This isn't favouratism, more that the others might eat her. This way she can get on with growing big enough to defend herself when the inevitable integration duff up occurs. Didn't stop her gloating, though.
Deciding that my presence was probably agitating them more, I took the cowards way out and went to have a calming cup of tea. When I next looked out, Mabel was by the back door, a glint of triumph in her eye. The absolutely tiny gap between fence and coop had proved big enough for her to squeeze her matronly bum through. We know that this was what she must have done, because we soon saw Doris do the same thing. Hubby looked at this, and then blocked the gap with a tall plant pot.
As we stood there, discussing the flaws in our security system, Maude took a running, flapping jump and joined her best pal on the other side of the fence. A problem that is not so easy to fix. However, only Maude and Mini seem capable of flying to any height, so we're hopeful that they'll get bored of being away from their chicken chums. Maybe.
Their complete disgust that the barrier was still in place when I let them out this morning was audible. Today, it was Mini that popped over for a visit. It's really more of an open prison.