The chickens are going to be moved into their new pen in March – well at least that’s the plan. The new pen has to be build first and the chicken coop needs to be moved. When we got the girls and Eaglet the confused chicken last year we foolishly believed that the turfed pen we built them would suffice at around 50 sq metres. Within 6 weeks they had destroyed every shred of vegetation and dug holes that were big enough to bury a large dog in. The holes were in random spots – just right for falling into when it was dark and time to shut them in for the night. This grassless pen wasn’t so bad when the sun was shining and I could chuck a load of veg in from the garden but come the autumn months and the rain, it all just turned into a disgusting muddy bog which wasn’t much fun for the chickens or me when I went to see them every day. As the vegetable garden was down to the last few winter crops I thought I’d let the chickens out in the garden without too much worry and, as they had completely annihilated the grass in the pen in their attempt to find bugs I assumed that they would do the same things to the weeds in the veg patch.
What actually happened is somewhat different to how I imagined it.
The chickens without fail completely ignore the veg patch unless I am working on it – in which case they follow me about, stand where I want to dig, dive into any area that I’ve turned over and generally make a nuisance of themselves. The rest of the time they try to escape into the garden next door by tunnelling under the hedge, or they irritate the dogs by parading up and down outside their bit of the garden, or their latest thing is to stalk the cats at the back door and peck at them when they go out. If it rains all the chickens run for the shelter of the terrace of the house. This is not good. As anyone who keeps chickens will tell you – they poo everywhere and are not the least bit bothered about whether it’s on the mat or on your boots you left out there and I daren’t leave the door open any more in case they get in.
Chickens seem to love cat food (as well as pasta, rice and bread soaked in milk!) and our three cats have their bowls of dry food in the glass room that leads to the middle garden – knowing that the cat food is there seems to drive the chickens wild. They managed to break into the house once – and only once I can tell you after I had to clear up the mess and fumigate the room. They seem to remember that the Holy Grail (cat food) is in the house – they peck at the door constantly and coo when they see me come into the room.
I can’t wait til their new pen is finished with its covered area – I suppose I will have to scrape the terrace to get it clean but in the meantime I can’t bear to turn them out into the rain so I’ll just have to grin and bear it.A bientôt Janine