Our Peaceable Kingdom
The wolf shall also dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
and a little child shall lead them.
Under careful supervision, we started letting the chickens out at the same time Fletch was around. The chickens were terrified of him at first and all flew across the yard in a big pile of feathers and clucking. Fletch definitely looked interested and took a few stalking steps toward them, but I gave a warning and Tiegan gave him petting, and he has barely looked at them since.
After a couple days, the chickens calmed down enough to come out of the coop, even with Fletch standing guard:
I really wish I had been out earlier with my camera, when Fletch was literally lying down in the grass while the chickens ate the grass around him. That inspired my thinking about our own peaceable kingdom, which has really come along this summer. We have our own little lion lying down with our fat ... chickens, and we have little children leading them as well.
To lead the chickens, we have been working (though not very hard) on training the chickens to come when they are called (a little crazy, but not impossible). Tiegan and I have used split cherry tomatoes as treats to teach the chickens to come when we call "chick-chick" to them. Dolley and Abigail like those so much that they come right away now (sometimes even without being shown the treat!), and while they eat we can pick them up to get them back into the coop (which is our real goal, because herding chickens is a pain). Sally seems to like strawberry tops better, and Martha would rather have her regular grain (when she gets close enough to even look — she's the flighty one).
Anyway, the other day I called "chick-chick" and Tiegan jogged toward the coop, with every chicken following her at a dead run for the coop door (and there treats). Success!
Until they stopped dead in their tracks, necks stretched high. Eyes wide.
And then Fletch appeared on his little cat feet by the coop door, and the chickens went in the other direction.
Peaceable, yes. Best friends? Not yet.
But we're all getting close.