The chickens have discovered the yard.
The problem with this scenario, of course, is the yard is Lydia's domain. While she's not exactly a chicken-killer, she IS a guard dog -- and she guards us. Therefore anything invading her domain is a potential threat to us. See how Pyrenees logic works?
Yet Lydia's level of alarm seems to depend quite a bit -- ahem -- on whether or not she's being watched. We've seen her snoozing on the porch, chickens clucking all around her; but when we open the front door, suddenly she's ALERT. "Alert! I'm being watched! Alarm alarm alarm, how did these chickens get in the yard? WOOF!" And off she goes.
So making sure the chickens don't get killed is more like a psychological game than anything else. It's a matter of timing.
One afternoon I looked out the front door and noticed a dozen birds in the yard. I knew better than to just let Lydia out, since that would trigger her ALERT instincts.
Time to shoo the chickens out. I opened the front gate, and started encouraging them in that direction.
Of course, herding chickens is like herding cats -- impossible. (Intelligence isn't their strong point.) This arrogant fellow watched me closely, wondering if I had designs on his harem.
Slowly the ladies bunched together and made their way toward the gate.
Once one goes through, the rest are easy.
Meanwhile, Lydia patiently waited. "You know, I could take care of those chickens much more efficiently than you. Just let me show you."
After I opened the door, of course, there wasn't much more for her to do except sniff around and try to look important.
"Yard clear! All safe!"