Hello! First posting here and a few questions. We are newbies at raising chickens and have 8- 4 Red sex links, 1 Buff Orp, 1 Black Aust, 1 Plym Rock, 1 RIR...hatched 5/18/09. My husband and son built a large coop w/run (will figure out how to post photo) but we've been letting them free range out in our yard for the past 4 weeks or so. They have stuck together and it hasn't been much of a problem getting them back in (or they go in on their own at night)- and have stayed in our unfenced yard near the coop. Yesterday 2 wandered off into the neighbors yard and got stuck in an old dog pen. I'm now afraid to let them out again when I'm not outside w/them. we usually supervise them (in general- we are home and check on them regularly)- but I got distracted that day. Their behavior up to this point made me assume they would stick together and close to our home.... my question is- was this a fluke, or will they expand their 'comfort zone' and start to wander further and further away from the coop? Also, now that they are getting close to laying, do I need to keep them in for a few weeks (as someone suggested on another thread) so that they are forced to get used to their nesting boxes? I feel so bad for them b/c they really want to get out and play- but I have to say, they have at least the minimum amount of space w/the coop and run....did I spoil them? Is it cruel to keep them in when they are used to being free range? I just don't want to find eggs all over my yard-or to wander off since we don't have a fenced area for them.