Saturday, May 7, 2011

Harnessing Some Energy

Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told:
"I'm with you kid. Let's go."
-Maya Angelou 

This is our new chicken tractor that I am very pleased with.  My second attempt turned out way better than the first.  I am not so keen on the way it looks like a big soccer goal instead of some natural bamboo structure but it is really sturdy and lightweight.  (PVC pipe as the base with heavy duty black mesh and deer fencing fastened on with cable ties.)

the front has a door that lifts outward to let them in and out

So why do we need two of these?  Well, to spread the chickens out over more ground (so they can dig and prepare garden beds for us), to separate the ducks from the chickens until the ducks get a little older, and the latest big idea is to try using the chickens as pest control under our Black Walnut tree.  When we moved here the Black Walnut was laden with fruit, very green and very huge.  We had no idea what type of tree it was.  After making many guesses, breaking open the unripe fruit, and then doing some research online, we finally realized those big green fruits were nuts!  We were so excited to harvest what seemed like thousands of nuts come to find out there was something going on with the tree that made all the nuts a dark mush inside.  So long story short, we think that the culprit may be the walnut husk fly that lays its larvae in the husk but over winters in the soil.  We have done the recommended sweep under the tree, raking up as much of the fallen infested fruit as possible, but why not let the chickens hang out under there to scratch and eat what they find? 
Hence the new chicken tractor upgraded and ready to go....

happy beneath the Black Walnut tree with lots of greens to eat

I found that if we put a medium sized box or shallow laundry basket filled with hay into the tractor, the hens lay will their eggs in there.

ducks and chickens side by side

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