The Coop Scoop: Free will, free range
Chickens are dumb. Chickens are very smart. It's all relevant. They're dumb when one random one runs the opposite way of the flock. They're smart as they know how to run to the garden fences each morning. They're smart as they know how to run to their coop/shed each night. And when I forget they're out there and they run in there anyways, without me.
When they've had their fill of the garden, they find a way out of the fence and become free range-ers. They go in the tall grasses, or hedges, or where there's a cool spot, some shade, and lots more bugs and food to eat. Those hens come in for the night with full gullets and whatever else parts they have. I need to brush up on my chicken anatomy, sorry. They just roam around, coming back to the garden or shed when they're hot or thirsty. Then, at night they run into their coop to be locked up. Roosting on the shelves and walls, all in a row, it's quite entertaining.
They're such low maintenance, about the same as a cat. You put some food and water down, either let them out into a pen or free, and that's all. Minimal care, minimal cost. They should start laying soon, so I will be needing to get some nesting boxes for that, and see how it goes. I'm not doing any animal byproduct foods, or antibiotic foods, or grower feed. We're just doing corn, oats and scraps and of course bugs, plants they eat all day. So, they're not super sized, but that's okay.
Kian and Karter still love to handle them and they still eat out of our hands and some like to be petted. The Barred Plymouth's are the friendliest still, deciding if that's because we think they're cuter and we played with them more, or just their personalities of that particular breed? They're also kind of the leaders of the flock, those 2 Plymouth's. So, for now, they're free range. I don't think they'll be liking winter around here...