I love to let my hens out and hear them cackle in delight as they run free.
Maybe I'm weird, but I get great satisfaction when I know they're happily free ranging.
I also happen to think they're quite beautiful.
And comical....especially the rooster.
He's such a dork.
Those jungle birds don't have any dancing skills on him!
Hens are great.
They're always happy to see you.
They clean up the bugs around your place.
They alert you when a fox or hawk are nearby.
And they leave you wonderful gifts each morning in the form of eggs.
We've made our chicken coop fox-proof by trenching and burying the fence line. I've seen a fox or two contemplating the best way to get in...but without any luck thus far.
I keep an eye on the hens when they're out of their yard, but I let them out in the afternoon so as to avoid main fox hours- dusk and dawn.
One tip I heard, to keep free range hens safe, is to set out a radio or hang one from a tree limb and tune it in to a talk radio station. The human voices help deter any would-be predators.
I haven't tried it myself...mainly because the foxes in our area are rather brazen.
We once had a fox grab a hen in broad daylight, while my kids were jumping on the trampoline fifty yards away.
My quick-thinking (or not so smart?) eight year old jumped off and chased the fox; shouting at it to drop the hen in its mouth. She chased it through the pasture and at the fence line, the fox did indeed drop the hen and run for it.
The hen lived to tell the tale and my daughter was rather proud of her own bravery.
See how exciting raising your own hens can be?
I highly recommend it.