No, i don't think she is throwing words lightly or misusing....and neither was I in this particular context. i really think it is more a difference of background, what we've been exposed to. As I've said, most of my homesteading experience, and involvling my use of these terms, was a few years ago. But I still know people here that define these terms as i am. Again, i think it may be a regional thing? Our relatively recent heritage here in Texas, of "open range laws" and "free range" really meaning FREE range without confinement or restraint. Locally, a lot of this land around me has been huge tracts of timber and paper company land, interspersed with scattered oil wells, with only rough dirt logging and oil field worker access tracks running through it all, unfenced, and used freely under open range laws to free range cattle and hogs. Because of that, when I moved up here, it wasn't unusual for one of these old families to claim ownership of a few hundred head of cattle, while actually only owning a few acres of land themselves. Their herds were ranging all over the county! "Free" in the sense of no restraint or confinement, and "free" in the sense of having to pay nothing for grazing land. The big companies didn't mind, because the cattle and hogs kept the undergrowth down in the timberland and oil fields. Might help to add, this IS part of the east Texas Big Thicket region.
And like you say, there are people using "free range" when they are talking about a tiny fenced yard, and I agree, that is "yarding"...unless they have so many on it constantly that it's down to bare ground, at which in my definition, it become a "chicken pen." But in the other direction, a little reading through threads on this forum indicate a lot of people ARE talking about running their birds loose in an unfenced, unprotected area. Especially if you read threads under "predators and pests." At lot of the "predator problems" posted there ARE "free range" without having a fence problems. As Bee puts it, being unrealistic about "free range" expectations. And as I noted about many at least novice chicken keepers, it often boils down to the idea you can just get some chickens, and give them unrestricted free run of the countryside...or subdivision...or town, or whatever, at least in most places, actually all the places I've ever known of that just doesn't work. And it's often a "decision" made simply because you can't afford or don't think you have to bother with a fence or decide you can put a fence off until later....that's under the heading of prepare your facilities BEFORE you get the chickens. .
When its totally green novices, its ignorance and misinformation....if you can't figure out pretty quick it just don't work like that, it at some point becomes just stupid. .
Edited by JenellYB - 2/21/12 at 12:52am