Chickens on the Loose

Baracka ‘helping’ to level the soil

Our rogue chickens have been free-ranging for a couple of months now. Destruction of ‘our’ part of the yard is progressing nicely. Whatever — better luck next winter. Despite the scratching to smithereens of my overwintering garden beds, it does make me happy to see them sunning themselves; sun spots are hard to find in ‘their’ yard this time of year.

This weekend we took on a long-anticipated project: de-grassing the parking strip. For those of you without parking strips, this is a vegetated strip between the sidewalk and the curb, which the city owns, but which homeowners are expected to maintain. Ours has several trees and four raised beds. What’s not to like, right?

Some previous owner placed concrete pavers around each raised bed – no doubt creating a firm working surface in some by-gone era. Unfortunately, the pavers were placed directly on the ground. Years (decades?) of grass growth had raised the pavers, creating a hazard for people moving from street to sidewalk. Some of the pavers were buried among grass roots, while others harboured impossible weeds. It was ugly and difficult. Every time I looked at it I had to sigh and look away.

So in temperate January weather (yes, in Seattle that is not oxymoronical) we took on the strip. Up came the pavers, out came the shovels to level and tear up sod and ginormous tap-rooted volunteers.

During this time, we had the gate open to move wheelbarrow loads of pavers and sod hither and yon. The chickens generally like to hang with us, so they eventually found their way out to the parking strip. Cautiously, cluck cluck cluck. They have never been out of the yard. Cluck cluck – Cluck? What heavenly treats do we have here?? Freshly turned dirt?? Worms and worms and grubs, and other delicious things the large awkward humans can’t even see?? Fresh grasses and weeds and – what’s that? Sun! It was Chicken Heaven.

While we worked, we babysat the chickens.  I was curious: How far would they roam?  Would they walk onto the street?  I was nervous that a leash-free dog would attack them.  Resulta? They ranged one house up and one house down – pretty much sticking to where they could see us.  When a family came by with a dog (on a leash, but still), I gently herded the chickens and they waddled back into the yard.  Simple.

As for the plans for the parking strip: the goal is something relatively attractive without having to mow. We’re laying down newspaper and cardboard, then covering the whole area with wood chips. If you’ve any other ideas, I’m listening…

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2 Responses to Chickens on the Loose

  1. Erin says:

    Lookin’ good and is that garlic I spy? Check out these pages with pnw native ground covers http://www.natsnursery.com/Native_Ground_Covers.php and http://www.champoegnursery.com/catalogGroundcover.asp.

    • jkmcintyre says:

      Garlic indeed!
      I think I will do some ground covers with pathways in between
      But will wait until the newsPaper/cardboard has decomposed to give the plants a fighting chance against the grass and weeds. Thanks for the suggestion!

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