It's coming into spring time which means gardening with the chickens time!
There is no feeling like the feeling of breaking the first ground in the garden after a long cold winter. (Okay so maybe our winters aren't as long and cold as up North but they are cold to us) Each year shortly before the official spring I start to turn over my garden rows as soon as the ground can be broke.
I always have to remind myself that the first break of the ground is not necessarily the start of Spring. We always have a few warm days and then WHAM! We get hit by a late freeze.
As I turn the first ground with my pitch fork I look to see if any of the chickens have taken thier gardening posts at the fence line. As I turn the soil and find grubs I toss them over the fence to my waiting helpers.
One of the chickens is so patient she will stand there all day and wait for another grub long after the others have gone off to dig up their own bugs. It really is amusing to watch them all attack a single grub thrown back to them. One chicken will see the grub flying across the yard and run towards it. At the point where on chicken starts to run toward the grub all the others must see what the one is trying to get so they all put heads down, wings back and run for it.
The one chicken that gets the grub then has to make a break for it! She runs and squaks and dives, all while trying to hurry up and eat that grub before another chicken can take it and run.
Often, not far from the waiting chickens are my two little goats waiting for the weeds and clover to be tossed over the fence to them.
It is our chickens that really pull double duty when it comes to gardening chores. The chickens are used to help weed and feed after the first turn of the garden is done. We do this by placing them into a chicken tractor and moving them across the beds. While they are weeding they also eat grubs and pill bugs and finally they fertilize the soil for us.
If you think about it you get a whole garden crew for the price of some grubs that you wanted to be gone with anyway.
After the chickens have done thier job they are sent move back to the backyard again to roam their 1/3 acre freely and lay us some beautiful eggs with all that extra protient they have recieved.
Chickens also give back by what they add to your compost pile. When I clean the chicken coop of the layer of hay I use on the floor I add the pooped up hay to the top of the compost pile. (Composting will be covered in another article). Once the pile has been broken down and turned, by mother nature, into beautiful soil it is put onto the garden and turned in.
The chicken tractor that is shown to the left was made for us by one of our friends. She does such beautiful work. After completing this chicken tractor she built a new chicken chalet for her chickens, which are urban chickens. She is just really a talented person when it comes to building pretty and usable designs.
So next time you are out with your chickens give them an extra thank you and dig them an extra grub for all the help they give us in the garden. So much help from our feathery little helpers that love gardening days If you are not using your chickens for your garden put them to work. They enjoy it and your will love the results. There are people that say they let their chickens scratch in the garden through the gardening season and no damage is done to the crops. I have also heard other people say that their chickens did a lot of damage to the tomatoes and such. I figure I just don't trust my chickens that much to let them decide what they should peck and what they shouldn't..