30 September 2012

Living With Chickens

Since getting chickens more than a year ago, we've had our share of drama, but nothing compares to what has happened this summer.  When we first got our flock, there was some pecking order issues and they had a tendency to prefer our neighbors' yards rather than ours.   They settled down and we put up more fencing and let them free-range in the back yard during the day.  It was fun having them always roaming the yard, finding insects and chasing each other around.  While our first set of chicks were growing up, they, along with their mother, decided they liked our neighbor's yard.  After plugging most of the holes, they decided the front yard looked good - eventually they were contained.

I was growing the bulk of our vegetables in the back yard, but I knew having chickens might be a problem.  I postponed planting the garden in order to let the chickens dig around in it, thinking they might mostly leave it along after I planted it - they did not.  I experimented with fencing off the garden - it kept the chickens out, but it kept me out too.

This summer has seen hawks attacking our second set of chicks and Robin being attacked by our rooster, who, we think, is under the impression she is another rooster.  We thought the dogs would eventually get used to the chickens, but it seems to have only gotten worse.

So, you see, we have some issues with our chickens right now.  As much as I like them roaming the yard, this summer has given us reason to contain them.  I want to give them as much room as they want, but I want to keep them safe, and I want us to be able to use the yard however we want.  The conclusion I came to was to build a fence - but exactly where?  I want it to be easy to put up, and placed somewhere that will give them, as well as us, the proper space.  The area that I'm thinking of will give them plenty of space to roam, and I'll be able to better protect them from predators - and I can plant my garden again!  I may let them roam in the evening, but I'll have to keep an eye on them around the veggies.

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