The Beta version of the chicken food fence was up by August, but the crops sown in September did not fare well. First, the chickens watched me sow the seeds. Which means they knew something good was going on inside that chicken wire. Where the wire did not reach the ground the hens were able to scratch and to dig with their beaks until the seeds came spilling out into their eager little mouths.
Some seeds survived and germinated. However, chicken wire is not very rigid. Even pulling it taut as we stapled there were places where the fencing dipped and buckled inward. In those places the fence was even less than the nominal 6″ allowed by the posts. Add the 1″ of beak from both directions that the hens can reach into the fence and very few of the brave buckwheat seedlings survived.
In October I added a 2×4 to each 4×6 post, increasing the nominal fence depth to 8″. I also bordered the bottom of each fence section with a cedar 1×4 to prevent digging. I then resowed the fence; this time with fava beans, crimson clover, and winter oats.
Finally, I have added one roost. My original thought was a roost centered over the fence. Further thought revealed that such a roost would result in copious poopage falling onto the plants inside the fence. Not good. So I measured a poopline out from the fence edge and built the roost there. So far only one hen uses the roost – Little Sister, bless her lonely heart.
With the colder weather of autumn it is slow growing. Although they seeds germinated, I doubt I will see the lush growth of my dream fence until March. And that is assuming the slugs don’t mow them down before then! Meanwhile I pick fallen leaves off the still-tender seedlings and scheme for further improvements…