As noted in the two previous posts, (Fowl Deed Indeed and Fowl Pen Fail), the biggest project/challenge of this spring has been the design and construction of a low-cost, easily movable large pen to contain the chickens and another for the ducks. The ducks have been contained through the winter in a makeshift pen which would be very difficult to move and the chickens wintered in three slightly crowded "chicken tractors" which we moved close to the house and surrounded by a "fort" of baled mulch hay (straw not being easily available or affordable here) that we had intended to cover. The cover part never happened, and thankfully we had a less snowy winter. By the time the ground was beginning to show the hens and their companion roosters were more than glad to be allowed to roam. But I was less than glad to have them in the garden. The minute they spotted the seedling broccoli and cabbages, the winged crew attacked and only covering the seedlings with Agribon kept the birds at bay.
|Chicken Pen V2.0, with fowl|
|Flight Proofing Detail|
Mostly this works. We have one Aracana hen who insists on flying out and she will get one wing clipped next time I catch her. The netting has been secured with cable ties, both to the tops of the posts and to the perimeter pipe, as our brisk winds have a tendency to knock it loose both places.
Now, I can get on with serious planting; the occasional hen who has gotten out has not damaged the garden. And we have hauled the other two chicken tractors to the same area where the big pen is, populated each with a rooster (keeping them from fighting for now) and are rotating the hens through a brief separation from the flock. Hopefully, this will allow us to determine who is laying and who is eating eggs, as we do have a problem with that.
None of the hens has gone broody, but three of the ducks are currently setting. One is brooding a handful of hen eggs along with several of her own species. Fingers are crossed for a good hatch. I hope to trade a few ducklings for some turkey poults; one of our friends lost all their ducks to predators and have a broody turkey!
|Growth hex, 24" diameter on exterior plywood |
for outdoor display, $240 plus shipping
|Maine Rock Hex|
Rocks being one of our main crops, look for more of this application of hex to rock as time permits. They CAN be shipped (the smaller ones... this example is about 14" across), and for local folks I can paint them on any rock on your place, or that you are able to deliver to me for painting!