Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chicken Coop and Run

Free range chickens are a beautiful thing, but if you’re an urban farmer these free spirits can wreak havoc on your garden. We (aka Mr. Man) built gates to enclose and protect the vegetable garden in the spring, but the girls managed to nibble at everything planted at the perimeter as well as those plants that grow tall; they just perch on the top rail and snack at their leisure.

We loved letting them have the run of the yard, until they decided to nap on the backsteps and poop all over the patio, and then there’s the disturbance of the landscape plantings—mulch kicked onto the paths, holes dug around new plantings, leaves eaten from bushes. Early this spring I laid a flagstone path along one side of the shed leading to the utility area where the compost is. I planted this with ferns and hostas as it doesn’t get much sun—my own secret garden. It was lovely, until the girls discovered it. They nibbled every last needle from the asparagus ferns and have torn the hostas to shreds. Enough!

Over the last two weekends Mr. Man worked to build a run for the chickens (that shed was the best investment we have ever made!). They still have a large amount of space, extending from the coop to the shed and behind, all the way to the other side. Mr. Man added a new door to the coop that leads to the run, providing them free access to the compost and the decomposing vegetation and fat worms that live there, effectively cutting them off from the rest of the yard and my secret garden.

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