Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Living With Chickens

I debated what the title should be for this post; "Chickens in Charge" came to my mind.
But we're still learning how not to have the chickens in charge around here.

For instance, this fence is working, protecting the hellebores, aquilegia, snowdrops, heucheras and primroses.

On the other hand they've managed to make their way around this fence and have dug the hole on the right and pretty much destroyed the bleeding heart that was here.

Gotta eliminate those fence openings!

If you're a regular reader of this blog you may be thinking, "Hey, what happened to 'Corraling the Chickens'?"

Well, it worked for a while. Then the girls decided they just couldn't put up with being kept out of the yard and they started flying over the fence. And yes, I know we could clip those wings but Kim and I aren't willing to go there. Not yet.

And yes, we could just keep them in their coop which most people say is more of a chicken castle than a coop. But, they're chickens and they love to roam and we love it when they're happy.

So, enter the fences. We've decided to fence off the most tender and precious plants in the garden and allow the chickens free reign over the rest.

New garden decor?

No, it's Ginger.

Grass seems to be the most favored treat of our chickens. They LOVE it. They eat, eat, eat the grass. Yet they don't seem to destroy it. If you watch them, you notice they only snip off the tip of each blade, then move on to the next.

Jelly Bean contemplates what to eat next.

So, they're happy eating grass. And in most of the garden they mess around without really destroying anything. I say most because they have dug up two of our newest clematis. Yes, I know, we were sad too, but we're still optimistic that we may see new growth on both plants eventually.

And as you can see from this photo I took just yesterday we do indeed still have a garden. (From the angle I took this it looks as if the back deck is about to fall over backwards. It's just the angle, it's really very level.)

I bought this fence at Fred Meyers. Not working. The chickens fit right through it. I have some extra of this, I may try to just double it up. There are some new hostas and ferns in this area that I would really enjoy seeing this year.

We dug deep into the garden fund and put up this "big guns" fence around the veggie garden.

We moved the original ugly green fence and surrounded the ferns, eremurus, and white daylilies. Seems to be working great. Quite the eyesore though.

But the plants seem happy now.

One place the girls have claimed for their own is under the back deck. We're happy to agree with them. The space is dry and nothing grows there. They hang out under the deck and joyfully roll around taking dust baths to their heart's content.

Tootsie, the head chicken, keeps her eye on everything and everyone.

Our view from the deck;

Sometimes if you look closer you'll see some "wild life".

And the whole "family" enjoying the nice spring weather we had yesterday.


Rosemary said...

Oh My, you do have a problem , chickens are smarter than we think getting around objects to get to the prime plant they covet.
Your garden is looking lovely .....

Connie said...

I would love to have chickens again, but this is precisely why I haven't taken the leap. I want free range eggs, but want my garden intact, too. ha
Your yard looks so pretty and green!! Great photos, and your chickens really are gorgeous. I like that decorative black fencing. Maybe you could reinforce it with some invisible netting?

Victoria Williams said...

The invisible netting is a good idea. I'll give that a try, thanks!

Laura Paine Carr said...

Your Tootsie made me laugh! I call my two (who look like her twins) "The Black and Whites."

Actually, I laughed all the way through your post! (Sorry;-)

In the new "Mother Earth News, Yard and Garden Edition" there is an article about how to build a thing that the chickens can be in all day, and you decide where they go (novel concept, no?). It is constructed out of wire etc, and you move it around your garden, they weed and de-bug and fertilize the area and are happy!

My girls are devestating to new plants, in new, fluffy dirt. O Lordy.

I love this post!


Unknown said...

As soon as I saw your title on my blog list I said HOORAY another chicken post. I do love seeing flowers but get the greatest kick out of your chicken stories. I think Jellybean was thinking Yum pretty red Tulips . . . Your yard and flowers are all looking beautiful so you must be doing everything right with and for the girls!

Southern Lady said...

So funny. My dad has chickens and at the beginning of spring they tried to eat his emerging daylillies. We put some fencing around them and fortunately they survived the abuse. Chickens eat a lot of bugs like ticks..that's a plus. Hang in there, it sounds like you have them under control. Carla

Randy Emmitt said...

Victoria and Kim,
Those chickens are a lot of trouble! But it seems you have a handle on them, mostly... Would enjoy the fresh eggs too. Thanks for such an entertaining post.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

You have such a beautiful backyard! I hope your chickens will just stick to the grass and give your poor plants a chance. I guess it's hard to be too mad when they are so cute. I love your new header too!

Sylvana said...

Your girls look so beautiful in the garden. Too bad they do so much damage.

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

I don't know when I can rear chicken, definitely not here in urban residential area. It is not easy to share things even with our own brothers and sisters when we were small. Now, there are chickens sharing our space.., our plot and our plants. It is never easy... haha. we learn along the way. I guess chickens too!!.. right?


Goneferalinidaho said...

Beautiful pictures! What a lovely garden and chickens. I am in love with the chicken idea, but we can't keep them with our dog. She grew up to be a hunter and nobody but her and her peeps are allowed in the yard. I know Cesar Milan can train a dog to not kill chickens, but I'm not as good as he is. Luckily for us, we have friends just up Hill Rd. from us who have their own and an overabundance of eggs. We've arranged for a veggie/egg exchange.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

One of my friends has chickens and they are so funny and full of personality. I think your gardens are lovely inspite of the chickens.

Kathleen said...

Hi Kim & Victoria. Not to fear, your backyard is still very beautiful no matter what the "girls" have gotten into!! I love your new header with their photos. Great idea. I would tolerate all the nuisances too because they look so fun to have around.

Ginger said...

I just love that you have chickens in your backyard! I didn't realize they were so destructive to plants, though!

Your gardens look great anyway!

garden girl said...

You've got a lot more sense of humor about their garden destructiveness than I'd have! I fantasize about having chickens, but I'm afraid their destructive ways in the garden would drive me to distraction. They sure are adorable though, and eggs from the store seem to come from an entirely different animal than eggs from home-raised chickens, with their gorgeous orange yolks.

Prairie Chicken... said...

I always love your chicken posts! and your new blog layout with their mug shots is fab btw!
The pic of Ginger ass up in the tulips is great :)

Unknown said...

I love your posts! They get me prepared ;) We have a hip-tall fence around our garden and the chickens will be (supposedly) contained to a good 1/3 of the yard... but I have a feeling I'm going to like letting them under the deck and foraging in the grass as well. I've heard horror stories about lawns so we are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best! You give me hope!

Btw: we received our Speckled Sussex, Australorps and Delawares this week: 16 total - here we go! Thanks for the encouragement!!

Barbarapc said...

They are just gorgeous. The only other person I know who has chickens did a 3 part garden design - the first closest to the house the girls were only permitted to visit while they were being watched, the second was a buffer zone and the third with the coop was theirs alone. And because of the coyotes in Toronto it was essential for the girls to be protected in the evening. Lorraine said their favourite foods were slugs and grubs. Whenever she found them, she'd drop them in a special spot as a treat. The lengths we go to when we garden & enjoy our wonderful animals!