The ladies weren't looking too cheerful over the winter, but now that it's spring, they've perked up and fluffed out. There's something very Chicken Run about the way they cluck and shuffle to attention when I come into the garden.
Blackie seems to be the leader. Certainly she is the most attentive, and the most likely to attempt to escape through the egg box while I'm collecting. Today they produced six (!) eggs between the four of them, so I had to keep shutting the lid to prevent her from making her usual bid for freedom.
The cats love to accompany me on these excursions, though I'm not sure they comprehend the chickens or the eggs as potential food. I'm happy to keep them ignorant of both of these facts, and the chickens are happy to help.
And, indeed, it didn't. For Sputnik, anyway, who received a sharp peck on the nose when he got a little too close to Blackie's plump frame.
* A type of cookie that, when I brought them to work, was recognized by only one person - the other American in the group.