I have had a week away from home, away from the hens, wondering how they would be doing in the coop. I had been hoping to give them their first outing outside the coop this weekend but arriving home today, I was worried they would need to get used to me again before I risked letting them out, in case they wouldn't come when they were called. I gathered up all the tastiest treats I could find to speed up the taming, but when I saw they had been given corn chips while I was away (totally against the rules), I thought I'd better make up a bowl of mash as well. It turned out they were all very hungry and would have eaten anything, and weren't remotely interested in exploring outside while there was any chance of more to eat. They still tend to eat as a group of three, with Wilma holding back, then eating from the second bowl I quickly filled from the first. Simon had said Goldie was clucking like a hen now, and I wondered if the two might also be sounding less like baby birds and more like hens, but they were still peeping away and Goldie's cluck sounds far more like a honk still to me than the sort of clucking I'd like to hear a hen say. In the video, you can just detect a faint honk after a couple of peeps from the other hens, shortly before the video concludes with Goldie sneezing. Eventually, all the hens had eaten all they could and were more interested in going outside the coop, though still very tentatively. Wilma settled herself down on the grass for some sunbathing, Goldie edged past her towards the upper bank, and Maude and Mabel kept close together and stayed close, too, to the coop, talking to each other constantly and trying out the various grasses. None of them went too far afield, not far enough to reach any of our best digging patches, so when I took Wilma into the bush I brought a bucket with me, to gather up some looser, more buggy dirt to bring back to the coop. They seem to like digging through it, and though she looked a little uncertain, I was pleased to see Maude tackle a worm.
A later update: Simon has found a video he took of Goldie's first attempt at clucking, definitely sounding more like a honk in this video too. Actually, she still pretty much honks rather than clucks to this day (24 February, two weeks later).