Monday, May 4, 2009

Poultry Prison

Earlier this spring, we done got struck with a turrible great idea. We had some nice weather, so Nathan spread some composted manure on the garden and tilled it. Then, knowing that our goal is to avoid tilling as much as possible since that's better for the soil structure, we decided to try not to till again right before planting. That's when the idea came. We said to Ourselves, we said, "I know! Since we always fence the chickens out of the garden in the summer, lets get it set up so that the chickens can be fenced in for the spring! That way, they can keep weeds from taking over before planting, and they can work at "tilling" in the mulch and eating up the bugs. Come planting time, we can just lock them out and plant!" We like to leverage our poultry forces, you see. Buy making a work camp.

It seemed like a fantastic idea at the time.

Nathan put up the fence, pushed the chicken tractor up to the garden, and set it all up to lock them in.

Then he added more fence.

And then... some more fence.

It started to look like an internment camp.

The Garden Gulag.

Wire. Everywhere.

Also, pipes, boards, rocks and more wire. Anything to keep those buzzards in.

We don't have real chickens. We have a whole flock of Houdinis.

I'm kind of afraid that we just trained them how to manage a fence. Now when it comes to keeping them out in the summer when things are growning (which has always worked fine in the past), they'll just let themselves in at will.

Everytime that we think we have them all blocked in, they find a new way. Their flight skills are steadily improving. They haven't quite resorted to digging their way out of Alcatraz, but I wouldn't put it past them. This morning, I caught them in the act of their latest great escape.

Fly to the fence, then to the peak of the chicken tractor.

Then dare each other to go first.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught them eating the greens in my cold frame. It was warm, so I had taken the glass off at put a screen of fencing over it to "keep the chickens out." Or so I told myself.

Ah-ha ha! Funny joke.

They reached their scrawny necks through the fencing and managed to deimate my poor little chinese cabbage that I was letting go to seed.

I needed to get some early things planted in my raised beds. It's not easy to plant seeds when the chickens are coming along and digging as I plant.

I had Jonah distract them with some grain and I planted as fast as I could.

Nathan made me a couple more fence screens to keep them from scratching up the newly planted dirt.

(Never mind the pouting child. I always seem to have a pouting child around here...)

Today, finally, we've reached then end of the chicken prison. Today, is May 4th, which means that tomorrow is May 5th and the Amish say that we mush plant our potatoes on May 5th. So I will.

And I can lock the chickens out and start fighting them to stay that way.


  1. Thanks for the laugh! I needed it. How many chickens do you have again? Oh, it doesn't matter. Even four chickens can cause that much ruckus.


  2. you have talked me right out of chickens.

  3. After putting up all that fencing, you should have let the chickens out into the yard. Then they would have thought you were trying to keep them out of the garden and they would have fought their way in. Right? And vice versy.

    Reverse psychology I think they call it.