On top of that, one of the trees in the corner had keeled over and smashed in the chicken wire across the top of the pen, so it was nearly impossible to get into the pen to clean it up unless you wanted to crawl.
So, I had the boys go in with wire snips and start removing the "roof". Ken and I took out another section. But finally, I realized that they would be just as happy running around in the yard.
We risk an attack by fox and stray dog, but the birds would have a better diet, get some exercise and with full run of the yard, might actually be able to escape predation as their wings are not clipped.
So now every day is a hunt for eggs and we have to herd them back from the road from time to time.
I'm trying to teach Macha how to herd the flock, but so far she just looks at me like I'm crazy even though she walks along with me as I attempt to round them up.
Fortunately, both Macha and Gloria have accepted that the chickens are part of our "pack" and have not attacked any of them. I suspect the rooster helps with this as his spurs are down right wicked and he did fly up in Macha's face once when we first let them out. She has steered clear of him ever since.
We ended up with 6 babies in the shared refreshing of the flock with out neighbor and all of her older birds. So we have something around 20 or so. We are again getting eggs -- about 3 or 4 a day. But I suspect the girls have a secret nest or two that we haven't found yet.
Each night they all go back into the pen to roost, so we can at least make a count from time to time... and while I've not noticed a decrease in the bug population, I have noticed I'm outside a lot more and getting more exercise from hunting eggs and chasing wayward birds.