I’ve been away from the farm a few days and was delighted to come home to three chickens who were happy to see me. While I’d like to fool myself into believing that they missed their “mother,” but I know it is more than likely that they missed their “gate keeper” (so they can free range) and “rock mover” (so they can eat crickets). After being confined to the run and coop, they hungrily tore across the driveway over to their kale patch and quickly mowed it down to the new baby leaves on the bottom. Kale is a great fall and winter plant, especially Vates kale. I’ve found it to be pretty hardy, and it makes great salads and side dishes for us humans too.
After the kale, they headed over to a bed that I began just for them with winter rye and two types of clover. Not only will those greens make serve as cold weather salad treats for the chickens, they will also put nitrogen back into the soil as well as become food for the garden when it’s tilled into the bed in the Spring.
After the greens, the girls spied me up by the rock spiral. Eagerly, all three flew towards me–not something I hope to experience again anytime soon. Yes, they love the rock spiral because that is where the crickets live. Having a rock garden that attracts bugs who like to hide is great for chickens. While I help them out once in awhile by lifting the stones, they also spend a lot of time scratching and digging as well as chasing and seeking. It’s quite humorous and provides them with some additional stimulation.
They also love the berry patch which has dried seeds that they peck at as they scratch around in the dirt underneath. It provides more food for them in the summer, but it does provide a bit of shelter and safety while creating a little ecosystem of creatures that our sisters love to snack on.
Finally, before heading back to the coop for the evening, Rosie took a leap up onto the run wall and munched a bit on the cabbage in the fence baskets filled with some edible plants. Because she’s our jumper but also the most docile, I’ve tried to create some special options for her up high.
All in all, I’m finding that gardening for chickens can carry on into the autumn season with much ease. And thankfully so–you see, the girls have not been happy about the fencing I put in (see “dear chicas” blogpost), and there’s only so much clucking, hissing, and chattering one mother can take!