The chickens are finally in their clover pasture because weather has turned warmer, and they have finally feathered out. On Friday, I herded all the chickens in from their temporary yard by our garage, and Ian chained the little coop to the back of our tractor. The coop slid behind him on skids as he drove out to the pasture. Then we set up a fence for them and let them out into their new world. The chickens seem to be making up for lost time by eating lots of greens. Their yard has become a honeycomb of little paths through the clover, and near their coop, they have eaten all the leaves off the plants, leaving stiff stalks bare and pointing up at the sky. We will need to rotate their pasture much sooner than I expected.
The flock seems much more relaxed in the warmer weather. I feel relieved for them. On the first warm night this week, when their coop was still near our garage, a bunch of them bedded down in the grass, and something felt just right about that. Even so, I had to move them inside to protect them from predators, so I ended up picking up half the flock, one or two at a time, and setting them inside their coop. It was a little bit shocking. They are completely feathered out on top, but when I reached my hands around their undersides to lift them, my fingers sank very slightly into warm, soft skin. Apparently their bellies have not feathered out yet. It was not at all what I expected, and I felt surprised every time I picked up another chicken. The chickens felt surprised too. They squawked piteously, but then calmed down quickly when I set them down again. I admire how quickly chickens seem to recover from emotional upsets.