The only good part of this weather is that it is coming from the southeast and the rest of the week is going to warm up into the 60s F, taking all the snow with it! Before the last 6-8 inches of snow fell, a truly momentous event occurred here on the little farm. I tacked the last bit of wire on the split rail fence and we closed off the remaining gaps on both sides of the house with makeshift gates. Then I opened the chicken yard and let all the girls tumble out.
The hens had been making jail breaks for several weeks now. They had access to their yard and dust box. I was throwing scratch and they were digging around in the hay I bed the yard with all day but they were still bored. It got worse during a spell of warm weather. They turned on one of the Swimmy Sisters and just about killed her before I realized that she was being cannibalized. (I’d never had this happened before, but those designer sex-link chickens are crazier than average. They seem to be bred to be egg-laying machines and not for temperament or the long haul. My opinion–you can agree or disagree.)
I’d been using the small amounts of money I’d been earning as an election official for the past three years to buy more split rail fencing and had been junk picking and garage saling wire (which is more expensive than fence posts and rails). It was slow going and we had done everything but figure out the gates on each side of house when winter closed in last year. I wanted to use the materials at hand to make permanent gates, and my husband didn’t think it would look good enough. We still disagree–BUT. . .
It was time to quit messing around and get the job done. Not only did I need to relieve boredom in the flock, I also wanted the girls out eating grubs and Lyme-bearing ticks as soon as temperatures got above 40F. My cat came in from the backyard (We don’t let him wander.) with the Lyme-bearing type of ticks three times last year!
Here is where not throwing away any type of wire, stone, posts, screens, disassembled animal enclosures, or fencing stakes pays off. My husband and I were able to cobble together closure for both ends of the fenced backyard in an hour with materials on hand and let the birds out to free range. It didn’t solve my cannibalism problem because I now had a bloody, injured bird that had to be separated from the flock or she wouldn’t survive. It did allow me to start the process of her recovery and achieve my two other objectives of relieving chickens of boredom and the yard of ticks.
So all’s well that ends well, until the next crisis. Begonia