Monthly Archives: November 2015

Dogs and chickens running free

We had our first mishap with our chickens this year.  I had too many roosters so I let them run free during the day on our two acres.  Two dogs crawled under our gate and killed four of the five roosters.  We were inside eating breakfast and came out in time to see the dogs but atlas, no help for the roosters.  The one rooster hid under our storage shed and stayed there long after we had picked up all the feathers and buried the four roosters.   We named him Lucky.

We have fixed the gate so nothing can get under it by putting dirt in the area where the tires run and make the indention.  We also took our four foot fencing and wired it with two feet on one side and two on the other and it extends down to the ground.  We attached it with cable ties.

Now, I have four roosters and 17 hens which is much better but I would have liked to either sell or give away the extra roosters.  It was a brutal death for them and three of them were still alive when we found them.  Breaks  my heart.  I am thankful I didn’t let all the chickens run free that day.

Chickens preparing my garden area

We are very excited to be home and have our chickens again.  Now, we are planning to use those chickens to prepare our garden area.

When we moved back, we tore down a lot of the wooden chicken houses because they were rotting.  At one time, I had about 120 chickens so I had chicken houses galore.  I think we tore down five 4×8 houses and two 4×4 houses.

The great thing was in two areas, we had this nice area where the houses sat and there was no grass so I threw a tarp down on the bare ground for the winter so I have two garden areas all but prepared.  I will till it up later and add fertilizer and build some four 4×4 raised beds.  I love to build simple things so I am excited to build the beds.

We have the chicken’s yard in the back left-hand side of our property where there is plenty of shade.  But, not a lot of sun during the winter months which could hinder egg production.  So, to kill two birds with one stone, we are going to move the chickens to the area we want to have a garden which will provide plenty of sun.

We have a wire cage that is 4×8 by 6 ft tall that we put a 4×8 sheet of plywood on top for a roof.  It is fairly easy to move with a dolly.  It has a door on it that we can lock up the chickens at night,   A guy in our town makes these cages made of chain link fencing and they are very sturdy.  We put fencing on the ground and sit the cage on top of it so no animals can dig in and kill the chickens.

So we will move the cage to the area we want a garden and fence it in.   We will make sure we leave the gate at least 5 ft wide to get the cage back out once Spring comes.

The chickens will destroy the grass and fertilize the soil.  And living in Florida, it never gets really cold.  We do put tarps around the cage/house to block the wind and keep the chickens dry.

When we take the chickens and the house out of the yard, the garden area will be fertilized and no grass.  So smart, don’t you think?  Ha Ha  I am sure others have done this before me, but, I was thrilled figuring this out for myself.  And it will be fenced in to keep the rabbits out of the yard, too.  I let my chickens free range on my property during the day for at least four hours a day.  Once the garden is planted, I don’t want them in there either.  And the leaves and rotted veggies will go to the chickens as well.

I want to grow some field corn this year for my chickens, too.  I don’t want to overwhelm myself and my sweet husband so I am thinking I better not go too big and burn him out on the idea of a garden.

We have discussed just buying veggies from the flea market and we will do that for some.  I want to can as much as I can this year.  It is hard to believe how expensive food is at the grocery store.  Buy on sale and stock up, people.

Right now, I am thinking of making a couple raised beds for strawberries, onions and potatoes.  I am pretty much a meat and potato kind of girl and don’t like a whole lot of vegetables.  I wish I did. My daughter-in-law, Brooke loves all kinds of veggies and I just wish I were like her. I have wondered if I got hypnotized, could I learn to love veggies?

Anyway, the basic foods for gardening this year will do.  I am getting blackberry plants from my daughter, Bonnie.  I don’t really care for blueberries but I want to grow some of them, too.  Strawberries are always great, too.  I love no hassle plants/bushes.

I hope this gives you some ideas for your garden and makes you realize how valuable those chickens are to you.  I have been raking out the chicken houses and saving the dirt/poo/straw/leaves in the 50 lb bags that the feed come in.  Cheap fertilizer.  I remember how well my blackberry plants grew around my chicken house in Missouri.

Enjoy preparing your beds now and it will pay off next year.