Our chickens are tireless. They’ve got serious moxy. They laugh at fences, sleep in trees, and throw large sticks aside in search of anything that moves. One day I came home to rubbermaid bins and chicken feeders broken on the barn floor because some bird was looking for a new nesting spot.
We keep them cooped at night for their own good, but they’ve got an automatic door opener that reads the first crack of dawn and the Australorpes frequently make it to the compost bin before I’ve oriented myself to the coffee grinder.
I’ve been cutting hay/thatch for months now and adding it to the various beds in hopes of smothering weeds and raising the soil organic matter to increasing fertility and hold moisture. The chooks absolutely love what lurks underneath. Spiders, beetles, bugs, centipedes, you name it! I snicker when I read those store-bought egg packages that read, “Vegetarian Fed.” If you want to see a feeding frenzy that rivals Great White sharks, toss a steak into a flock of hens. Its a blur of feathers and feet!
Yesterday, I took down the awful tasting ancient apple tree that used to be their nocturnal haven. Then, I used that wood to edge one of their favorite garden beds. One of many that they would un-mulch and cover the walkways killing the grass and making for winter muck.
These ladies will tail me if I’m carrying a shovel. The know that freshly upturned soil harbors worms galore. So, its a real challenge when planting. And a REAL challenge when seeding something. I’m so sure they’ve got veloceraptor vision and can sense the energy signatures of seeds on, above, or even below ground.
Sometimes I will distract them with a pile of dried mealworms on the other side of the barn just so I can have some space. Fencing is helpful, but they fly with relative ease (relative to myself, I suppose), so proper barricades need both a top and sides.
Once established, plants are pretty safe. I’m considering using milk cartons as cloches while my transplants mature. Chickens are a lot of extra work, but…the eggs. The eggs are incredible. So dark. So thick. So orange.And they are kinetic and sonic yard art. Fun to look at and listen to. Kids are naturally drawn to them. As are dogs. As am I.