I’ve started thinking of my garden as the ‘captive garden.’ Trapped behind bird netting to keep it safe from the chickens, it’s starting to recover a bit. Just shows you how dangerous ignorance can be. They ate almost everything. They don’t like the russian sage, gaillardia or salvias, so they’re all right, but everything else they ate down to the dirt. So I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to come up with a system that will keep the chickens out and let the plants continue to grow. So far that’s bird netting. I’d like to get something a little less maddening; the netting catches on everything, buttons, rings, necklaces, plants, bricks. Everything. I’d like something a little easier to work with.
Right now I’m just happy to have something that works. To no longer spend half my time sweeping up the dirt they’ve scratched out of the planters. To have plants with leaves on them. I’ve put more than half the pots on the patio under the netting and while I was at it, made sure that I could see my favorites from my chair. I’m hoping that will motivate me to make sure to water them. I haven’t hooked most of them up to the drip system yet and it will probably be a while before I do. I still have a couple of things I need to move, then I’ll start assessing irrigation needs. Have to make sure that the plants are safe from the velocichickens, then worry about watering.
Ash will find anywhere to sit in the sun. Most days I come home from work and she’s laying on the rug just inside the door in a patch of sunlight, right where I’m most likely to walk over her. In this photo she’s sitting on top of our chiminea which was the only place she could find to sit in the sun, which, of course, went behind the clouds when I went to take this pic.
So the Wonderful Spouse got caught up in my attempts to straighten the house for Mom’s visit and when he came home for lunch further straightened and put stuff away. One thing he did brought tears to my eyes.
My Mom saves her newspaper for us to line the nest boxes in the chicken coop. We had a couple of broken eggs a while back and decided that switching to artificial grass in hopes that we would lose fewer eggs to breakage. We don’t have to replace it, just rinse it off, let it dry and put it back. I haven’t been able to tell my Mom that I don’t need the newspaper anymore because she’s been interested in the project from the beginning and seems to like donating to the cause.
When the Spouse came home from work, in addition to everything else, he lined the coop with newspaper and left the eggs for Mom to see. He knew that I wanted to show Mom the girls at their best and to show her that her support is appreciated. It’s the little things that mean the most in the long run.
In terms of impact on our lives, chickens are definitely it. And I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the whole of it yet. Currently they’re in the process of digging up all of our planters. Any bare earth anywhere in the yard is likely to have one or more chickens lolling in it. I’m going to have to come up with some way to keep them out of the places I don’t want them. They ate all the leaves off my kiwi vine because they got under the wire surround.
It’s supposed to be warm this weekend and I am looking forward to it. I need to spend some time in the garden and I just won’t if it’s cold outside. I’m a weather wimp and I know it. I hate being cold worse than anything.
The chickens have done so much damage and my solution was to shove all the pots I could into the planter and cover the planter with bird netting. They’ve kicked dirt out of the planter all over the patio and then it rained so the dirt has adhered to the cement. I’m sweeping as I can, but it’s hard going. Especially when you have feathered groupies following you around.
I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to recover some of my garden back from the chickens. I tried several different methods, but finally came up with draping bird netting from posts in the back of the beds and holding it down. I moved most of my multitude of pots into the beds and then set up the netting. There have been a couple of break-ins, but for the most part it works.
There have been times in the last few weeks when the destruction wrought by the chickens has brought me to tears. If I had known how it would be, I probably would have made a different choice. I did find another home for two of the girls. Out in a more rural area with a family that was already keeping chickens and had lost a pair over the winter. It was a good place for them to go, but I still had emotional qualms about leaving them.
Despite my qualms, reducing the flock had improved conditions for all. I spend about 40% less time wrangling chickens out of where I don’t want them and 40% less time cleaning up chicken poop. Unfortunately, there’s not 40% less noise, because we did manage to keep the hen that thinks she wants to be a rooster. She’s very vocal.
Now, finally, after some tears were shed and some chickens re-homed, the garden is starting to recover a little. I have sprouts coming up all over that the chickens can’t reach. I planted potatoes, Red Thumb Fingerlings for the first time this year and have one plant that is already a couple feet tall.
My mom decided she was going to come for a visit. She went to lunch with a friend and dropped by afterwards. She doesn’t come over that often and I ran around like maniac trying to get things in the yard straightened up for her to see. She mostly wanted to see the chickens and how we keep them. Everybody was on their best behavior, even Spud made an appearance, basking in the sunlight where she could see him. We even had a couple of butterflies flitting about, looking for places to lay their eggs. The picture of domestic tranquility. Which it would not have been a couple of weeks ago. At that point is was the mostly covered in dirt patio. I can’t wait until everything starts blooming. It’ll look so much prettier then. Thinking of having a garden party.