Chicken Updates

by - July 28, 2017

It has been so hot and humid -- yet with no rain -- here in Raleigh that I've bottomed out on summer morale. I'm doing what I can to keep the plants from drying out and the chickens from overheating, but mostly I'm waiting on rain. This afternoon we finally had a short shower with more supposedly on the way. It's expensive to keep watering the plants, but many of the perennials and shrubs are in their first year and need the extra water to get established. We had three days of a heat index over 100°F, so I directed a box fan into the chicken run and kept the birds supplied with chilled watermelon. The kids and I stuck mainly indoors watching movies. I spend a couple days working on clutter and they spent a few days making more of it with pipe cleaners and pompom balls. 

We now have three laying hens, except one has stopped laying. Bella, the black Orpington, seemed to be getting broody, and after being removed from the nest box a few times, she stopped laying. Tweedledum is now laying, and Ruby still lays most days. Tweedledee is curious about the nest box but not yet laying, and Luna the Silkie is just as clueless as ever, so we pick her up and put her places.

I've hit a bit of a wall concerning how to let the hens safely forage. We've been letting them roam the yard while we are home, but the yard isn't fenced and the hens keep moseying into the neighbors' yards. That's just rude of us, so we need to come up with a way to let them access our vegetation and bugs. The coop and the run provide a total of 16 sqft per bird, and the run is over 6ft tall, so they technically don't need the space, but oh how they call for us in the morning to let them out.

While I would love a 6ft privacy fence around the backyard, fellow backyard chicken folks have warned us that they don't offer much protection for the birds or prevent them from flying off. Those are issues to consider as well as the cost and the hassle of working it all out smoothly with the neighbors. Our goal has long been to create a natural privacy fence with trees and shrubs, and I'd hate to drop a couple grand when the vegetation is just now filling in. I've been Googling "chicken tunnels" because we have wire remesh and hardware cloth on hand, so I might connect a tunnel from the run to a sunny patch and try to plant hostas, vines, and/or grass along the side for them to nibble but not destroy.

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