Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chicken Girl Problem # 6: Keeping a Garden

Spring is in the air!

Ruined Front Garden
 Spring has become a bit more known in these parts within the last few weeks. But with spring brings lovely spring flowers like daffodils and tulips, however, when you have chickens you are lucky to keep them to stick out as much as they are now!

My sisters let the chickens out while I was at work and were kinda sorta keeping an eye on them but obviously not well enough since they managed to get into the garden in front of the house and kick all of the bark mulch out onto the front pathway. Needless to say I was not a happy camper and it took me an 1hr and 30 mins to shovel all of the bark mulch back into the garden and rake everything back into a nicely even blanket across the plants. (The pathway is very long and there is two long gardens in the front of the house) So this got me thinking, how can I have a nice garden while also having chickens. I've been trying to "train" them to not go into the pool area by only opening the run door which leads to the back yard and that has been working. They don't fly over the fence or anything into the pool which really is great! I'm trying to prevent the accumulation of chicken poop in the pool area its not fun in the summer to step in chicken poop while barefoot.

Chickens in back of the shed hanging in the throne bushes
Chicken digging behind their run
For the most part the chickens literally have a routine depending on what time I let them out at. For example: if I let them out at 5:00 PM or earlier they will always be in the woods in front of the house until 6:00 PM hits then they will move to the back of the yard behind their coop/pool and hang out in the woods over here. (That would be the pictures posted above.) Then they will hang out for another 1hr and 20-30 mins in the woods or digging through the compost pile then they will go inside their coop for bedtime!

Behind their coop digging for worms!
Turkean digging for worms!

It amuses me how they can be creatures of habit and for the most part will stick to their routine! With this in mind I figured if I made the chicken areas more "appealing" maybe they would like it more and stay away from the front garden! So when anyone, me or my family wants to give them treats like berries, rice, bread, lettuce etc I've been having the treats be put into the woods or the grass in front of the woods. So this way rather then putting stuff in front of the house where they are being teased to go into the garden they will be kept away from it all. The only thing that really is an issue is that we have a bird feeder in the garden in front of our window because we like to 1) see the birds but 2) also tease the cats and it helps stimulate them and keeps them entertained. The chickens love going heading to the bird feeder cause they know there will be sunflowers seeds that may have fallen for them to eat. So I try to give them sunflower seeds in the woods or by their coop to keep them out of the garden!

Chicken scratch by the coop AWAY from the front yard

3 out of the 5 original birds! Almost 1 year old!

Chickens in the woods in FRONT of the house
Me & Mantequilla. This rich dirt is from a compost pile that used to be there!
I ALWAYS have water available for the chickens while they are outside. I put it right where they are so they are always encouraged to drink drink drink!

 So in order to make my woods/backyard area more appealing I decided that I was going to get some more fresh dirt/sand which basically is loom and I am going to make a chicken "bathing" area because they are digging holes in places that holes should not be dug! I basically don't want to DISCOURAGE my chickens from their natural ways but I want to encourage them in ways that won't kill my fathers yard.

Chickens in the front yard woods
 I also have been searching forums that talk about chicken friendly plants! I learned about


Portulaca oleracea

Common name(s):
Purslane, Summer 

 From the National Gardening Association and it is actually a weed but can be used for cooking and has some really great health benefits. My mother and I actually used to pull this weed out of the flower beds and throw it away into the woods but not I am going to transplant them so the chickens can enjoy them! You can read more about it here

I also found this forum on backyard chickens that mentions some other plants that are friendly to chickens as well its called Planting a Chicken Garden   It is a very fitting name!

I would encourage everyone to look for other forums on BackYardChickens and to post some interesting ones that you find in the comment section! I would love to see what you found!

Enjoying the woods in FRONT of the house
Mantequilla enjoying some fresh water splashed with some apple cider vinegar
My ugly chickens with their BLU-KOTE butts!

P.S. While the chickens were moving to their usual spot around 6PM in the backyard they stopped dead in their tracks and starting making their warning call. I was right behind them and I started looking in the sky thinking they saw a hawk and were alerting the others to hide but I COULD NOT see one so I started to get really worried. Then I looked right in front of me and there is was a BEAUTIFUL white tail deer just looking at me dead in the eyes. I could not believe how close it was. I immdeiatly took a picture and then called my dad so that he could come down and see the deer. It was an amazing site and it always reminds me of how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful location!

Can you see the deer!? They blend in sooo well!

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