Friday, November 25, 2011


Keeping "free range" chickens is awesome.  It's really fun watching them scratch around and it feels really good to see them finding food in the most miniscule microscopic items found in the lawn, as well as using the unwanted weeds as forage also.  The downside to all this free food and free weeding/pest control is that the ladies don't know where to stop.  They first eat the weeds and the grubs, then they scratch deeper for smaller bugs, eat the grass, and once those are gone, will keep digging for more.  They have those crazy big feet with crazy big talons and they know how to use them.  Since we got the ladies nearly a year and a half ago, they have slowly but surely destroyed over half our lawn. 

Now I am a strong believer in lawn alternatives for your yard.  Lawn is a really rediculous idea when it comes to the environment.  It's a monoculture that requires lots of herbicides to keep it weed and moss free, tons of water to keep it green in the summer months, and it provides absolutely no benefits to our natural environment.  One of my readings in grad school said that "the American lawn is an ecological disaster."  When I read this, I thought YES!

But I digress.  Logically, I shouldn't really care if my chickens destroy my lawn.  The problem is, it's not my lawn.  It my landlord's lawn, and I doubt she shares my viewpoints of it's presence being en ecological disaster.  Since there is chance that we will be moving out of this house in the next year or so, repairing the backyard needs to start now.

This leads to the title of this post.  No more complete control of the backyard for the ladies.  Clever rigging of random fences has restricted them to a small portion of the backyard that includes their favorite foraging area, the compost pile.  We've also let them have the garden area since that's pretty much finished.

Naked kale to the left.
They took no time in stripping the leftover broccoli and kale plants down to their bones and should start working on the smaller stuff soon.  Their poop should fertilize the soil and hopefully some bad bugs and weeds will get consumed.  They really love scratching around in there, so I don't think these new boundaries are bothering them much.

Once sequestered, Shawn and I had a chance to survey the real damage.  And there's a lot of it.  Any and all areas that had a nice layer of moss are now completely bald, (I really like moss as an alternative to grass.  Less water requirements, and it naturally suppresses weeds.) and the whole area under the fruit tress are pretty much cleared.  Those bitches...

Spot #1 of at least 4 areas to be restored.
Today we started the grass reseeding process.  We waited until all the bushes and trees dropped their leaves, which happened this week thanks to the storm.  We loosened up the top inch or two of soil and sprinkled seed.  Hopefully a sprinkling of soil over the top of the seeds will protect them a bit from the sure onslaught of tiny birds coming to eat the seed in the next couple weeks.

This whole lawn thing had really caused me some stress and sleepless nights.  I know, it's silly, but our landlord is really opinionated about her lawn and likes to see a nice one.  Hopefully this reseeding works and I'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Moral of the story: Chickens are tiny bulldozers.  They will destroy all.

P.S.  Sorry for the lack of posts as of recently, I got a mini job that has kept me busy.  But now that I'm getting into the swing of my new schedule, I should be back again.

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