Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chicken Field Trip

The Coop

Normally my chickens (3 old hens) live in their chicken wire enclosed yard and plywood hen house under the shade & protection of their big Live Oak tree. They are not allowed to run free on my property because of the danger of too many predators.

They roost at night on their oak branch perches and in their 12 x 12 nest boxes

Hens Roost

The blondes are my Buff Orpingtons, Lucy & Barbara. The black and white hen is a Silver Lace Wyondotte named Red. (named thusly because she had a red head when she was a tiny chick)

Yesterday, I had some weeding and tilling to do in my garden to get it ready for Spring vegetable planting. So I decided that “the girls” and I would go on a little “chicken field trip” to the garden. I corralled all 3 of them into a large pet carrier and carried them over to the big raised bed garden. At first they wouldn’t come out of the carrier, so I picked each one up and gently put them out onto the garden soil. They looked at me like I was crazy. Soon they got the right idea and started to scratch and peck at the green grass and weeds...

We worked alongside each other. I dug and pulled weeds and tilled the soil. They watched me and nibbled on the green stuff and pretended to do their “chicken tractor” thing. By “pretended” I mean that my old girls have gotten lazy in their advanced age. They are 7 and 8 years old, after all. That’s pretty darn old for chickens. They didn’t do very much tilling of the garden soil...

I was the only one out there doing any real work, but they had fun and kept me company. The green grass added good nutrients to their diet. They were happy and comforted to get back to their hen house at the end of the day. Such was our chicken field trip yesterday. There is always something going on around here.

Here is a metal “garden art” hen and her chicks who live in my front flower bed that I include here for Farmgirl DK’s metal rooster “Mike”.

Hen & Chicks Garden Art

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket


Hardware Bob said...

You writing skills are so good, I love to read your earthy entertaining stories. I felt like I was right there with your tractor chickens and you.

Let me know when you want some real tractor help.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

I loved the tour :-) - And I can't wait to take my girls out for a yard field trip!!
So tell me, is the predator problem so bad that they can't walk from their coop to your garden? I'm just wondering because I had envisioned being able to let my girls out (without a fence) to let them free range when I'm outside with them and putting them into their pen when I have to go inside. Now you've got me thinking that this may not be an option...
Even for seven and eight years old, your ladies are still lovely.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Ooops, one more they lay for you at all any more?

Farmer Jen said...

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the continued compliments on my writing skills.

You know I can't have a real "tractor" in my raised bed garden, but some weeding help may be needed soon. Thanks for offering.

Hi Danni,
Glad you liked my quick tour of my old and messy chicken coop. It was built on a budget, but does have room in the hen house for 6-8 hens to live comfortably. They go out in their enclosed yard daily, so that helps with their exercise too.

Your location there is different from mine, but I do see wooded area in your photos. I lost a young hen to a fox that climbed over my coop yard wall (before it was covered completely on top) during my first season as a chicken keeper. It devastated me, so ever since then I have been extra, extra cautious about their safety. My neighbors sometimes let their chickens run free in the yard, but coyotes & foxes have taken many. I think if you are outside with them during the middle part of the day (not twilight or night when predators hunt)and their are no dogs (Roxy may be fine) around, they may be OK. I really wanted to have mine run around my property too, but I only have 3 acres here and it is not fenced on two sides, so the neighbors dogs (many!) run through here frequently. I think it might be a good idea to ask your immediate neighbors about the predator population in your area. They would know. Also, once the predators find out that you have chickens, they may come around more often seeking an easy meal. Not to scare you, just to make you aware.

Thank you, I will pass your compliments on to my girls. Yes, they do lay eggs occasionally. They gave me quite a few eggs this past December (one Buff & the Silver Lace were laying)and then they suddenly stopped in January. They slow down their laying as they age, but the Buffs tend to lay longer but less frequently than some other breeds.

Enjoy your baby chicks. They grow very quickly. Only 5 or 6 months till you get an egg!

in-between said...

Oh your girls are so pretty! And they look like good yard companions. I'm surprised that they are still giving your eggs - good for them! Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Farmer Jen said...

Hi in-between,
Thank you for your nice comments. I have been having fun reading your blog and am happy that you found mine.

Twinville said...

I so enjoyed reading about your chickens, their coop and their fun field trip. It's been such a long time since I visited your blog. I had actually lost my link to your blog and rediscovered it through Critter Farm's blog.
Your hens are so lovely and I'm also impressed with their age and that you care for them as pets.

Most people seem to eat their chickens after they get too old to lay regularly. But I can't imagine doing that with our girls.
My entire family adores them already, and they aren't even technically hens yet. haha

I will try to visit your blog more often now that I have the link. I enjoy seeing your beautiful photos and reading your eloquent writing.