Starplate pasture in May

Chicken run

I haven’t written much
about our year’s first set of chicks because, at the moment, they’re
largely self-sufficient.  Ever since
moving them up to the starplate coop and the pastures I’m slowly developing up there, all the flock needs is to have their water
and food topped off every day or two.  I do shut them in at night,
though, since they’re a bit far removed from our dog’s usual patrolling
grounds and since predator pressure is high on our wooded farm.

Chicken fencing

I did have to add chicken wire to the base of the cattle panels
to keep the chickens in so they wouldn’t wander the whole area at
once.  Currently, the flock is grazing in their second little
paddock, which is a five-foot-wide
tree alley.  The trees are just grafted babies
in our flowerbed at the moment, though, so I’m taking advantage of this
year to build lots of soil health, both with chicken manure (spread by
our helpful fowl) and
cover crops
(rye at the moment, soon to be followed by sunflowers and
buckwheat).  Unlike most of our farm’s soil, the ground around the
starplate coop is well-drained (wow!) and low in fertility (boo). 
Hopefully some heavy grazing will fix the latter problem and turn this
into one of our better growing areas.

Chicken pasture

Chicken and comfreyOne of the experiments that has already panned out well was planting comfrey along the fencelines
in this pasture.  Setting out the plant divisions in November gave
the comfrey plenty of time to get its feet under it, so the plants
sprang up with vibrant life a couple of months ago.  Our chickens
are happily pecking the leaves back down, as you can see in the photos
to the left and above.  As we rotate the birds to a new pasture, I
have Mark come through with a weedeater and whack down any tall plants
remaining, including the tops of the comfrey plants.  Using that
method, I wouldn’t be surprised if the plants keep growing and expanding
all summer.

The starplate coop and
the current pastures are really too big for the ten little birds we
currently have living there.  Which is wonderful!  There’s
nothing that makes a chicken yard feel good as much as

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