Run Chicken….Run

April by

No, my sky is not falling. But conceive of a moat as a protective barrier rather than a water feature and you’ll understand why I went to the immense trouble of arching a long, four-foot-wide chicken run across much of my lot, detouring it around the greenhouse and extending it with another, somewhat-wider run beneath the trees hedged for privacy along the east side of it.

I had long wanted a garden protected by a surrounding chicken moat. Such a practical place to toss garden waste and bugs for daily conversion into eggs. And to have the garden perimeter patrolled so willingly, even eagerly by assiduous hunters of bugs, tillers of soil and producers of organic fertilizer. Add a duck and the early morning can be about bird song and ever-brightening skies and warming air….and not about the steely-eyed stalking and ruthless dispatch of invading forces of slugs sneaking up through the surrounding grass.

And in the summer you can hardly see it, the high inside mesh serves as a support for fruit trees, berry bushes, phlox and roses, as it does.

Square would have been easy. Curves made for far more wrist-twisting and wire-cutting….but an infinitely more pleasing layout. With two-inch stucco wire over 4-guage steel mesh the birds needn’t fear the voracious raccoon, the foraging bear, the bobcat, the coyote or the cougar.

If one satisfaction can be isolated from so many to be had in a garden, the chicken moat is perhaps the thing I am most pleased to have actually got together in all my years of horticulturing.

The hens have nest boxes in the garden shed and winter access to the greenhouse running off it to the south, once I complete the harvest there. They deter the arrowroot from invading it and the sowbugs from occupying it.

It works in every way intended. The ladies are happy and safe and glad to join me when I’m breaking ground or to hunt and peck eagerly and at will across the uncultivated southern third of an acre if I’m working outside.

A symbiotic quartet in every way, that’s us.

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