Friday, February 17, 2012

A New Chicken Run!

I came home yesterday to find that Matt had been hard at work, fencing off the western side of our backyard to keep the chickens off the back lawn:

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

This is part of our effort to reclaim our backyard, and have it lush and green and free of chicken poo by the time summer rolls around. Now I will be able to lay on a blanket in the backyard this summer with the chickens nearby, but not walking across me! We were also concerned for our fruit trees. We protected the bottoms of the trunks with chicken wire, but know that excessive chicken scratching can bother the trees. All the trees in the new chicken run are lilacs, and while we want them to bloom beautifully (I can't wait! Just a couple more months!), they are not a source of food for us like the apples and Asian pears are.

 The simple wire gate where we can get through to the garage.

I wanted to be in on the building of the run, but this week has been incredibly busy for me (I'm writing this in one short morning break before heading to campus again for a Friday-and-Saturday class) so Matt ended up doing it himself. We had been looking for supplies on both Craigslist and Freecycle for a couple weeks with no luck (chicken wire and fencing are in high demand in Portland), so Matt ended up going to the local hardware and getting all the supplies, and some other things we needed, for $30, so it still didn't cost too much. Also, the t-posts and wire will be something we can take with us when we move and use for a long time in the future. This run was a solution to the need to give the chickens room to roam without going on the grass, that won't damage the property here at all- we can take down the run in a matter of minutes and no one would even know it had been here (apart from all the chicken scratch!).

Happily digging. 

The next task is to re-attach the coop door with the hinges on the side, and rig it with a pedal so the chickens can let themselves out in the morning. We know several people that have done this to keep their chickens quiet in the morning, and given the racket that our flock makes wanting to get out of the coop at first light (which will end up being around 4 AM in the height of summer...), we are all for it!

Over in the garden is a new little tent of reemay (protective cloth/webbing that keeps plants warm and lets in 75% of sunlight) that we set up on Monday night when our first little green seedlings got transplanted outside.

Under the tent, our little cold-hardy greens are doing just fine! Kale, arugula, mizuna, mibuna, yukina, and miners lettuce. I also planted a batch of sugar pod peas on Monday- I might be jumping the gun a little bit, but I just couldn't wait to get a few things in the ground!

Upstairs under the lights, some spinaches and pak choys are growing away, and we clipped leaves and our first salad of them two nights ago. There is absolutely nothing like fresh fresh greens in the dark of winter. I could practically feel the vitamins hitting my bloodstream. We won't transplant those little guys (spinach doesn't transplant well anyway), but will just keep eating from them until they give out.

I've been thinking a lot recently about how it's late summer in the Southern Hemisphere right now. Back in New Zealand, the north will be steaming hot and everything will be lush and green. Man, I miss that! (What I don't miss is working in the packhouse, which is where I was a year ago!)

1 comment:

farmer_liz said...

Looking good! I want to try covering the garden this winter to keep some plants going through the frosty nights. Aren't chickens destructive when given the chance! But you can't complain when you get all the fresh eggs you can eat :)