May 22, 2013
When we were originally discussing getting chickens, we talked about getting about six…then six turned to twelve. By the time all of them were ordered, we ended up with 22! What?! I guess that’s just how things go.
We built a coop for them and then moved on to building a tractor so they could eat greens but still be safe AND work for us, preparing the ground in our garden! The only problem is that our garden is about 50ft from the coop AND there is an asphalt driveway in between. Still, whenever my husband was home, we were able to move the chicks in the tractor. However, it is just too far and too awkward & heavy to move by myself. Plus, the 22 chicks that fit in there nicely are growing…fast…
So, until we could figure out what to do next, we decided to build a run. The chicks LOVE it! They fly out of the coop every morning. They love scratching in the big pile of leaves (the run is partially in the woods) and they are eating all of the baby snakes. The snakes are no longer attacking them – I guess because they’re bigger now.
However, one day we realized when we went to take them our kitchen scraps, they were running at us. They had already eaten all of the green out of the run and though there were plenty of bugs in the run, there was no more green. So, for the love of the chickens (and our wallets), we decided to let them free range. It started out just after supper, then after lunch, and pretty soon they were free ranging the whole day (with only one hawk incident so far).
Then, last week, when I was putting them up for the night, I couldn’t find one of them. We were very upset and decided we needed to figure out something so they would not get lost/eaten but were still able to eat lots of greens. The chicken did turn up (likely slept under the coop or in a tree that night) but we spent last Saturday working on building chunnels (chicken tunnels).
We do not have a ‘chicken’ section of the budget so we had to be very picky on what we would spend our money on. Of course, it would be ideal to be able to have movable chunnels but we could not spend money on wood and fencing so we decided to stake down most of our chunnels for the time being.
The holes in the fencing we bought (cheapest) also ended up being too large so we had to figure out what we had to cover the holes so the chickens could not escape. We ended up covering it with weed cloth (because it certainly does not keep the weeds away) and some cloth we cover the plants with when there is a freeze warning.
The chunnel runs along the edges of the garden so that once they eat & scratch everything down to just dirt, we will expand the garden and move the chunnels over. That is the plan, anyway.
(Panorama of the chunnel coming from the coop, across the yard and crossing in front of the driveway (at bottom of pic). There are two removable chunnel sections so the the kids can cross the yard.)
(Panorama of chunnel heading up the other side of the driveway, next to the mulched garden, and ending up at the tractor.)
They still would rather go in the run or free range but we are hoping they get used to the chunnel. Whenever we have the money, we’re going to replace the cloth with chicken wire but for right now, it works 🙂 I will keep you updated to how it works out.
Impressed with your creativity. I paid $3.00/doz.for free range eggs at farmers market.
thanks! we try to research a lot before doing anything and over half of the things we implement are things christopher came up with that i would have NEVER thought of!
Looks brilliant to me! Can’t wait to hear how it works out in the long run!
thanks 🙂 i’m hoping pretty soon, we can cover it w/wire so they don’t get hot in the afternoon and we can see when the dog gets in there. oh that dog! grrrr
How is it working out? the chunnels…..
really well, as far as letting them free-range safely. as far as them prepping the garden in order to plant, we just moved the tractor (the chunnels lead to the tractor where we dump compost, put water, a roost, and nesting boxes) and just started planting there. they have been prepping the area for the past two months. we’ll see how it does. the rest of the chunnels edge our garden so we are planning on expanding the garden little by little as they eat/scratch each area down to dirt.