Wednesday Jimmy and I took advantage of the eerily summer-like weather we are experiencing here in Seattle and 'winterized' the yard. We covered the winter vegetable beds with netting and the main one with our multi-purpose 6x6x4 ft chain link fence. The multi-purpose fencing has been great. One of my friends mothers bought it... never used it and kept it stored in her garage for close to 10 years. She passed it on to us after a frenzied garage cleaning. She asked if we 'might' find a use for it. In the 4 years we have had it, its been a chicken tractor, a greenhouse (we wrapped it in 6 mil visquine and put it over the garden bed) containment area for visiting pets, containment area for integrating new chickens into the flock, a summer chicken run and now its Mr McCregors garden fence to keep the local wild life off the spinach, lettuce and collard greens.
We trimmed back all of the bushy type things around the house including the roses and butterfly bush. I'm not sure why they call it a bush..... cuz the thing grows about 8 feet every year. If we didn't trim it to 2 feet every fall it would go full on Feed Me Seymour on us! We dumped the soil from most of the patio pots into the garden beds so the girls could scratch it all under and poo on it over the winter. Stored all the odds and ends that get scattered about the yard during the summer. Then we repaired or patched any escape hatches in the fence the girls might use in their quest for ultimate adventure. Then in a ritual moment that could only be called a rite of passage we opened the pen and let the girls out to free-range the back yard for the winter. They filed out one by one silently with their heads high. Jimmy and I pulled out the lawn chairs and watched as they slowly promenaded to each of their favorite spots in the yard. It was like watching the acknowledgemet of the stations of christ at an easter pageant. They spent about 5 minutes in each area before moving on to the next. The whole thing took about an hour before they concluded that the opening day parade was over and gleefully headed into the brussell sprout bed for a little lunch. For anyone considering putting in a backyard flock..... we leave the brussell sprout bed open because the girls eat and trim the leaves, munch on any and all bugs, worms and snails that might eat your crop and leave the sprouts completely alone. Backyard chickens are the best addition to a garden. We let them free range fall, winter and spring, They keep the garden beds dug up, fertilized and turned over for us. They dig through and turn over everything in the compost pile (this is their favorite place to play). They keep the bug population down so far that it is hard to find a snail in our garden. They aerate and fertilize the lawn and keep the dandelions at bay.. Altogether, they are a hard working bunch of girls. And the proverbial icing on the cake? They give us free eggs!