We've had a little sun this week and the chickens are just overjoyed to get out and enjoy it. Now that winter is here and it's not quite as much fun to sit outside with them, we have started to let them out by themselves as long as we are downstairs (in the morning, eating breakfast, for instance) so that we could hear them if there was any trouble.
So they get to forage around in the garden by themselves for maybe 20 minutes at a stretch. The amazing thing is that they actually seem to miss us when they're out by themselves. I go outside with my coffee and call out, "Girls!" and they come running, putting their heads down and flapping their wings a little so they can get up some speed. I've had three of them up on my shoulder at once, cooing in my ears and picking at strands of my hair.
A chicken doesn't really know how to express affection--they are not huggers--so the way they show their interest is by picking at you. I kneel down and let them pick lint off my sweater for a few minutes, and then the lovefest is over and they head back to the compost pile to dig for worms.