Keeping free range chickens isn’t all fun, games, and free eggs. Oh no… Let me tell you a story about one of my flower beds.
My house didn’t have flower beds when we bought it. We’ve been putting them in one at a time whenever we have the energy and inclination. This flower bed is actually 3 years old, and by all rights should be pretty well established. The first year I filled it with annuals. Then last year I bought some perennials and attempted to make an actual, planned flower bed.
And this spring (just as I was getting excited because most of the perennials had survived the winter and were starting to come up) my chickens decided to move in. Why did they choose this spot? Who knows? Chickens, even free range ones, seem to like to pick certain spots to scratch, dust bathe, and generally hang out. The problem is they create these CRATERS where the ground used to be. It’s hard to tell from that photo, but some of those divots are bigger than my cats.
If I can say one good thing about the chickens in my garden bed it is that they’ve successfully eradicated the grass I hadn’t been able to remove. The bad part is they eradicated everything else too. They seem to have destroyed the BEE BALM and that stuff is supposed to be indestructible*. The only survivors are the echinacea and peony that I managed to protect under that ugly piece of chicken wire.
But that gave me a thought – what if I put ugly chicken wire over the whole garden?
So I did. I smoothed out the soil, filled in the divots, and I put the fencing underneath the rocks trimming the garden bed. If that keeps the birds out of the flower bed today then tonight I’ll plant my gladiola bulbs here! Also mulch, I think I need mulch to hide the ugly fence solution. Hopefully with the fence under the mulch the chickens won’t spread it around too much.
And then maybe next year I’ll put in some more perennials.
*although it’s possible the bee balm root mass is still there, we’ll see if it comes back to life.