the chickens moved
to their newest pasture, I couldn't resist trying
out several experimental plantings in the area they left behind.
At the moment, this pasture is not a forest pasture, just a sea of
grass, so I put in two almonds for summer shade for the flock (and nuts
for us.) Hardy almonds are a bit experimental in
zone 6, but if they work out, the chickens might get something out of
the flesh that falls away to reveal the nuts. And trees
make leaves, which the flock adores scratching under.
I also planted three
grape vines along the northern fence of the pasture. I like to
start grapes from hardwood cuttings and had run out of places to put
these guys, so I figured I'd give them a shot in the chicken
pasture. If I play my cards right, I might be able to get the
chickens to eat the Japanese beetles off the leaves for me, then turn
the chickens into another pasure when the fruits are just getting ripe.
Across the fence, I
installed an Illinois Everbearing Mulberry. If this tree takes
root, in a few years it should spread its canopy into this pasture and
drop fruits for my flock. The area the tree is in will be our
next chicken pasture, so the tree will feed the flock when they're in
two different pastures.
Finally, I sprinkled collards
and "Salad Blend" (lettuce, chicory, endive, spinach, and Swiss chard)
onto the patches of ground scratched bare by the chickens. The
idea was that when the chickens are rotated back into this pasture in
about six weeks, they'd have tender greens to nibble on.
Unfortunately, a flock of sparrows descended almost immediately and ate
nearly every seed. I noticed they also ate the
oats I'd scattered in the grain paddock (although the clover
sprouted and I took the time to bury the field peas.) Birds don't
come to steal scattered seeds in the garden, but I guess these pastures
feel more safe to them --- looks like I'll either have to sprinkle
compost on similar plantings in the future, rake the seeds in, or take
a page out of Masanobu
Fukuoka's book and
make clay balls to encase the seeds until they sprout.
With our chicken waterer, I only have to top off
their bucket once a month on pasture.
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