Sunday, October 19, 2014

Renovating the Chicken Run

What happens when you let a flock of hens scritchety-scratch on a hillside for a few months?  Bare soil, dead grass, and the promise of erosion.  I knew this would happen without rotating the hens between two areas so the first patch of grass could recover and, it has!  So, the fun is now in how to renovate and reinvent.  The grass is gone so the possibilities are endless.  More permanent terracing would be ideal eventually, but for now...

1) "Compost Terrace" composed of dead sunflower stalks, log rounds, organic material, and 2' chicken wire and T posts to hold it all in.

2) A re-seed with winter rye.  Not the chickens favorite forage, but it will hold the soil in place.  It is coming up now under the straw.

3) A planting of comfrey spread out across the hill.  Beware where you plant will never be removed from that place again!  I think it can have this hillside, as the chickens like to eat it, it is a nutrient-rich food plant, and it's roots can hold the hill in place.

4) A wooden retaining wall made from extra rough cut lumber we had on hand to keep organic matter/soil from washing out.  Our plan is to fill these paths up with woodchips we can get for free.

So, that is the plan, from eyesore to chicken plant playground.  We shall guess is they can move back into this area next year in late spring/early summer.

Looking rough!  Defaced hillside.
Seeded with winter rye and planted with comfrey.  A cherry tree and Alternate Leaf Dogwood will hopefully eventually shade the chickens here.  
Wooden retaining wall around perimeter...steps still to come.
Building the retaining wall

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