Chicken times!

I had been putting off letting out the chickens to free-range because I only wanted to have to build one fence, the 8′-tall deer fence, so I was waiting to turn out the chickens until I had that done. Turns out that’s probably not going to happen this year, though; the county requirements make the project into a much bigger deal than I had wanted to take on. They require scaled construction drawings showing the dimensions of the lumber, depth of the holes, etc. They also require the posts to be sunk into concrete (for just some deer netting?! Sheesh!), with an inspector scheduled to come out and look at every step of the process. The woman on the phone said that my ghetto-tacular idea of just tacking up the netting to the existing trees would immediately get the permit rejected. Sooooo… while I could do all those drawings and fill out all their paperwork, the real issue here is that having to shell out for a bunch of 4 x 4 x 10s (I’m not sure if I’d be allowed to use the slim felled logs that I had salvaged for this purpose) and concrete makes this project jump way out of our price range. Especially if you add in the cost of a post-hole auger rental ($80) and the $75 permit application fee. So maybe that’s a project for next year. I just hope that most of my plants survive this year – I know there’s a family of deer living right in the back woods.

In the mean time, though, the chickens need their freedom. And I don’t have to get a permit for anything under 6′ tall. So yesterday I spent most of the day cutting straight saplings – and some long 2 x 2s I found in the garage – into 4′ long stakes. I pounded them in with a sledgehammer, folded the deer netting in half – hey, we have it on hand and it ain’t getting used any time soon, so why not put it to work – and made a little mini-ghetto fence. It won’t keep most predators out, but it will keep the chickens – and SofĂ­a – in.

Today I finished some wiring and stapling and let the chickens out. And they loved it. They were so happy to run around everywhere, scratch in the leaves, find and eat bugs, peck at leaves, and take their first real dirt baths.

They were much less skittish than usual. They got really excited and followed me around the garden as I worked, and came and ate peas from my hands each time I called “chick-chick-chick.” They even let me hold them.

I put them away with no problem, just calling them for dinner, and they all came running inside the coop to eat.

It makes me feel so much better now that they have room to run around.

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