As of sunset today, the chickens’ new habitat is ready. They now have three grazing and scratching areas, each separated by gates: the garden, the orchard, and a section of woods. Six chickens can do a great deal of damage to grass, and we want the strongest possible turf in the orchard. When it became apparent by mid-winter that the turf in the orchard was not going to be able to withstand a full winter of scratching, we moved the chickens into the garden to protect the orchard turf. The chickens soon wiped out the winter rye that had been planted as a cover crop for the garden and made a big mess. But at least, in the garden, no permanent harm was done.
Ken made the decision to extend their scratching area into the woods. That will give the chickens a great deal more space and relieve the pressure on the orchard turf. It also will provide a cool, shady area for the girls to hang out during the heat of summer. It also will make it easier to justify two or three new hens this spring.
This project cost several hundred dollars and a lot of time, but after we saw eggs for more than $10 a dozen at Whole Foods, we had no doubt that it was worth it.