what are you, chicken?

some of my chickens have little bald patches on their backs. i thought maybe the rooster was picking favorites, but my friends who have no rooster said the same thing is happening to their chickens. i did a bit of research and it looks like my chickens don’t have enough to do in their fenced in yard. they get bored and peck at each other. i don’t like this as all – i want my chickens to be the happiest of chickens.
i decided to let them out of their pen in the evening when i’m home. when it gets dark they’ll go back to their coop and i can lock them up again. yesterday afternoon i dramatically opened the gate wide and announced that they were free to roam the garden. they looked at me for a bit, and then went back to huddle in the shade. they like to do that, silly chickens, they huddle to keep cool…
all afternoon they stayed on the familiar part of the open gate, not venturing even a toe into the land of plenty. when i tried coaxing them with greens, a few came out long enough to eat, and then hurried back to safety. damian decided they are “too chicken”(hardy har) but i’m not giving up.