A Reader Speaks: Her Chickens Roam Free
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post describing our search for a cheap, moveable, size-adjustable chicken tractor for our hens, who can’t have free rein of the garden because of their tendency to chomp on tender greens. We had a delightful reply, with photos, so I’m posting it here with the permission of the writer, Helen Bruzzone—who with her husband, Steve, has a backyard flock not far from Sunset’s office in Menlo Park, CA.
The Bruzzone hens rule.Dear Margo,
I just read your Team Chicken blog on free ranging hens and the problems they bring to the garden. We have six birds that, in less than a week, completely stripped the 10′ x 18′ “weed yard” we hadplanned for them. They now graze for a couple hours per day all around our backyard and will not touch the following plants: rosemary, violets, ivy, society garlic, agapanthus, ice plant, citrus shrubs,bottlebrush and cypress. Limited as that sounds, these surviving species give a pleasant, almost Tuscan effect. So now I pen up my roses and let the girls romp. I do sorely miss the gazanias and I would love to see a snail again, but hens are just the sweetest pets, as endearing as any dogs, cats and parrots we have had in our family.
The information you provided about Ruby’s yoke peritonitis is likely what saved our girl, Evangeline. She was egg bound last week with four soft shells. We were very careful to not let those shells break inside her. We placed the hen in a box with a heating pad under her and a dishtowel over her back. The heat caused her muscles to relax and she expelled the eggs intact. With calcium supplements she has since laid three fine eggs. I think we found Team Chicken just in time as the inevitable chicken problems are catching up with us. Now it is Hannah, the alpha girl, nipping the others’ necks. Does anyone know how to discipline a cocky hen?
Evangeline, the survivor.