A Fully Fenced Back 40 (Feet) and Free-Range Chickens

IMG_7132It is 31F and raining this morning and I hear the rumble of the salt trucks on the street in front of My Little Farm in Town. Everything is covered with ice. I’m not going anywhere today.

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!

IMG_7133

This is the makeshift gate on the south side of my yard, consisting of a window screen, lattice that originally camouflaged the rainbarrels, a fence stake, and what was once the top of an old chicken tractor. Beautiful? No. Practical? Yes, it will keep out a wandering dog–the urban chicken’s greatest enemy.

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.

This is the gate on the north side of the house, consisting of two sides of an old chicken tractor stacked and attached together, a fence stake, and some 6-foot wire mesh I'd been using as a pea fence in the garden. Guess I'll have to junk pick or garage sale some more! Again, it ain't pretty, but it gets the job done.

This is the gate on the north side of the house, consisting of two sides of an old chicken tractor stacked and attached together, a fence stake, and some 6-foot wire mesh I’d been using as a pea fence in the garden. Guess I’ll have to junk pick or garage sale some more! Again, it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.

So all’s well that ends well, until the next crisis. Begonia

 

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Chickens, Junking and Other Freebies, Make It Yourself, Recycle Reuse Renew and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s