Frank and I were gone for 4 days this week on a mini-winter holiday. Our neighbours took good care of our chickens for us while we were gone. Yet when we got home, the hens appeared to be really happy to see us.
I wasn’t actually expecting to notice anything because chooks aren’t the most demonstrative of animals; they neither wag their tails in joy nor purr in contentment. They do follow me around and that’s generally all I get as a show of their affection. But the day we got home and let them out of their run to free range they chirruped a slightly different tone to their normal cluck and kept at it through the afternoon. In the evening when we went to lock them in their coop, they chirruped again. In fact Rosie (the most vocal – okay, the only one that actually made that chirrup sound) came out of her roost area to “greet” us when we peeked in the laying box to say goodnight. We do this every night and normally it’s impossible to pet Rosie as she roosts furthest away with Bronwyn and Isabel between her and the laying box (Bronwyn and Isabel are forced to tolerate our attentions though I’m sure they’d rather be left to sleep without being tucked in).
I think Rosie, at least, actually missed us.
By the next morning all was back to normal with them sticking near us whenever we were in the garden, especially if we offered them some snacks. Below, Frank’s feeding them pellets – the same pellets that are in their feeder 24 x 7 but so much tastier when eaten from his hands.