Saturday morning. They've been with us since Tuesday but today, finally, the girls get the chance to range free in the garden. Work has meant I haven't been at home at the end of the week to supervise their first foray from the safety of the run.
The plan was to let them out and watch at a distance from Izaac's bedroom window, giving them space to explore with feeling threatened by us. 7.30 in the morning, still in my dressing gown (again), I let them out of the coop, and opened the gate of the run. They were super keen but it was frankly a disaster. I climbed the stairs, coffee in hand, to assume my position at the window only to see the cat, Meg, sprinting across the lawn in full-on hunting stance. The chickens scattered to all four corners of the garden. Meg picked on the closet to her (Mabel) and proceeded to chase her over the wall, down the 6 foot drop into the courtyard.
I ran down the stairs and out the french doors, by which time she had now chased Ellie into the same place. Doris and Sam had pegged it back into the run and were cowering in the corner. I managed to catch the others, dressing gown flapping in the breeze, and get them back into the run. Then we went to Plan B. Which was to lock the cat in the house and open the door again. But by this time they were too terrified to do anything but huddle together in the corner of the run, alert for danger.
Not an overwhelming success by any stretch of the imagination. And they haven't even met the dog yet!
So what to do next? Are a cat and a dog incompatible with 4 free ranging chickens? If anyone has any ideas about how to tame the moggy and get her used to them I'd be very pleased to hear it.
In the meantime I shall be pounding they keyboard googling "chickens & cats" and the girls are safely shut in the run with a head of old cabbage dangling from the roof as a treat.