11 February 2013
I remembered that I thought this might happen, and that I needed to clip some wings. I didn't have much time left in the weekend, so after the chickens went to bed and it got dark, I went out there and was able to grab each of the smaller hens and clip one wing, and put them back without causing too much of a ruckus. It will make me feel better if none of them are able to get out - that way everyone will get used to the idea of a smaller space. When I say "smaller space", I'm still talking more than a thousand square feet as opposed to a quarter acre. We went through this when we first got our flock, so it's just a matter of time before everyone is adjusted.
Another part of fencing them off was to protect them better than I could when they had the run of the yard - that includes stringing fishing line above as much the area as possible. I had heard that the fishing line kept the hawks away from the chickens. I wasn't sure if they saw and stayed away, or they would hit it and become disoriented. Although they have attacked our flock numerous times, I was wary of doing anything that might hurt the hawks. I just did some reading around the web and the consensus is that the hawk sees it and stays away. I hope that is the case. I still have a few more areas to string it up, but I'm more than half way done.
It's been a week since I wrote this post and the chickens have adjusted fine. It is different having them fenced off. We're not able to interact with them in the same way, and they've become more skittish around us, almost immediately. When they see me, sometimes they act like they want to get out - I still feel like I've done something bad to them! We'll get used to it, and hopefully they're more protected. Anyway, I have been letting them out in the evenings. I just planed my backyard garden for the first time in almost a year. In the last week the chickens hadn't made it as far as the garden in their evening wanderings, but today they immediately found it. That's ok - they can't do much damage right now.