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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Sad Truth About Chicken Tractors and Tillers

Chicken tractors may be a good thing if they’re built correctly. But chickens working as independent contractors outside said chicken tractors are not very efficient. Especially not if the gardener overseeing the chickens is a procrastinator, and an impatient one at that. I reached this conclusion yesterday when faced with the prospect of getting my overgrown veggie beds ready in a hurry. When Mr. G built the chicken run, he paid little attention to my description of how a chicken tractor should be built. He kept saying that such a contraption would work only on level ground, which we don’t have. So, as is his habit, he ignored my plan and built what he thought should be built. It is too heavy to move- although I did convince him to move it once. But after the struggle to lift it, the bulging veins, the huffing, puffing and groaning and the unprintable language the effort brought forth, I didn’t make that suggestion again. He said that was the last time. And I accepted that. Any tractor work done by the chickens would have to be accomplished during their daily walk-about in the garden.

It’s getting very warm here--the temperature tomorrow is predicted to reach 82F and some of the greenhouse seedlings are more than ready to go in the ground. But their prospective garden beds were hopelessly overgrown with crabgrass, honeysuckle and numerous other defiant weeds. Undeterred, I ventured forth yesterday with the spade and garden fork. After about ten minutes of engaging in an exercise of futility where the honeysuckle emerged triumphant, I gave up and let Sam and the girls have a try. Henrietta showed the most initiative, kicking and scratching out a hole here and there, but she soon lost interest and wandered off in pursuit of less strenuous entertainment.

So today, Mr. G., seeing how despondent and tired I was, and noting that his supper was not ready because I was exhausted from my garden travails
and too worn out to cook, borrowed the neighbor’s tiller and accomplished in a half hour what the chickens and I hadn’t been able to do in a day and a half.

Sam, who had watched Mr. G running the noisy machine, was livid! As soon as I opened the door to the run he came out crowing and attacked the newly tilled bed, acting for all the world as though he was upset that Mr. G had taken over a task that he himself was all set to finish. He even managed to get the girls riled up with righteous indignation. He ordered the girls into formation and directed them to poke and kick and scratch at the newly tilled soil. But finding no grubs, worms or other tasty morsels (which had evidently been destroyed or dispersed by the tiller blades) , they soon wandered off, their anger forgotten. What they will try to do to the tender little seedlings that will soon inhabit the space is something I don’t even want to think about!


Twinville said...

I so enjoyed reading this post about your gardening and chicken woes and joys. Thanks! You had me laughing and nodding my head.

Sharon said...

Nice looking chooks oh and roosty of course. Is the hen a Barnvelder?

roosterhen said...

twinville- glad you enjoyed it :)

Sharon-Nothing as fancy as a Barvelder here-Sam, the rooster is an English game banty, Monique is a Plymouth Rock, sold to us as a dominique, and the late Henrietta was a Rhode Island Red.

Anonymous said...

Why so negative? Me and my husband have our vegetable area caged off while the chickens can work on the rest of the yard, preparing it for us. We are in no hurry, and the lack of bugs is the best thing about having them, apart from them being our friends, of course. :-)