Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ack! The Chickens are Drving Me Batty!

So I love my four renegade chickens. Renegade because we're kind of violating zoning laws to have them. But they are much quieter than our neighbors' dogs, we keep the coop safe and clean, and they will, I hope, soon lay eggs.


They love more than anything to do their little diggy chicken dance in bare dirt. Which in my garden means where I have just planted fall seeds. My daughter and I put in cabbage, spinach, carrots, mache, peas and chard. The chickens watched, blinking from bottom to top (did you know chickens blink upside-down?) with their orange eyes thinking, yes, my pretties, yes.... and then as soon as my back was turned they danced their happy selves across the dirt. And the bird netting we put up to keep them out. Then they ate the leaves off my only Brussel's sprout plant, which was only three inches tall and not getting taller, but still.

And then. They waddle over to the back patio and poop as all grazers do, randomly, prefering the same spots we prefer to walk. Like the door mat and under the patio table. My daughter shouts, "Just look out for the slimy poo right outside the door!" So I use the hose sprayer and spray down the patio and the mat, feeling bad for using so much water (the broom us just a mess for this task). I set the mat on the grass to dry. Ten minutes later it has three chicken turds on it.

They've been staying in the yard so far, but the other day it was cloudy and cool, so the driveway at the side of the house wasn't such a hot desert. Chickens like shade. They stay away from hot sun. They also like to explore. So once the driveway was not so hot, they thought they'd go check out the neighborhood. Did I mention we're not really supposed to have chickens?

So I, big pregnant belly and all, rigged up a makeshift fence between the garage and house. My materials included a rotted, nail-infested old porch banister and some leftover lengths of hardware cloth from the chicken run. It won't keep them in if they really want to go exploring (only a matter of time), but it will slow them down. Not safe for when the baby starts crawling, though.

Time for some real boundaries. Such a theme in my house these days, what with an almost-four-year-old princess, two spoiled cats, and now four cocky chickens.

My plan is to get some flexible fencing like deer netting and fence off a section of yard extending their run. It won't be safe from predators like the run and coop are, so we'll still have to put them in at night and keep half an eye on them, but it will keep them contained, give them more room to roam, and give them a shady area to play in.

Now I just have to do that project. After I do a few loads of laundry and bake some bread. The homesteading dream!

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