Okay, so I became chicken-obsessed last summer, but too late to start my own flock
In the meantime, I have moved into a different home, on a much bigger piece of property (about 3-ac, 1.5 is fenced out back), and basically have zero nosy and/or annoying neighbors. YAYAY!
So, spring is approaching, chicks will be hatching soon (meaning I want to start selecting and ordering tomorrow!), and I am Bound and Determined to have fresh eggs and tomatoes this year. No holds barred, lol.
The summer garden plot is selected, planned, and just waiting for the soil to dry out enough to start turning it. And still, I have LOTS of space left for the dogs and chickens...
Here's my deal. I intend to free range my chooks. I have solid enough OB now on both my dogs to feel comfortable that if we start the chicks inside the house and take the right steps, my dogs will recognize that the poultry are Mine, and not their prey. That's not my concern. My concern is what to do with the chooks when I eventually start letting them out. I have about another 1/2 acre that is heavily wooded (tall pines and dense underbrush), but outside my back yard fence, that would make excellent range for the chickens...BUT, it's outside the fence, where Jack can't practically watch over them.
I *really* want to put the chooks in the woods. I mean, we have several trees in the yard, but nothing grows under them, meaning No Bugs, etc. And those woods are just jam-packed with a chicken Feast of free chicken feed!! And they'll actually be safer there than in the yard. We have hawks galore here in deep east Texas! The next biggest predator would be the snakes, and I actually do Not want to be attracting them inside the fence. I'd rather lose some eggs or even chickens than my Jack to a cottonmouth.
So, I'm torn. Do I confine the chickens to the fenced yard, where I feel confident Jack will ward off any predators...except the two biggest threats, being the hawks and snakes! Or can I just make sure I have a couple roosters to alert me, and let them enjoy the woods?
Either way, I am totally prepared to lose a few chickens along the way, so if you're sentimental about that, well... I'm just trying to keep it natural, and making no apologies as I enjoy my chicken noodle soup for dinner.
IDK, I'm thinking it will be cheaper and easier and way more natural to put the chickens outside the fence, let them roost in a natural environment, and cultivate some nests where I can collect whatever eggs the snakes don't eat first. I have no doubt y'all will tell me whether this is a Crazy plan!