Okay, so it started out innocently enough. I’m a permissive (albeit overprotective) chicken owner. My 11 chickens live in a coop in the side yard. The side yard is connected to a very spacious (double lot) backyard. And daily, I let the girls (and one boy) out for recess.
Early spring one of them got the great idea that they should fly over the fence that separates the backyard from the front. Most of them can’t fly that high, but found a way to squeeze through the space between the gate to follow them. I’m sure they had visions of fine dining in their minds.
I kept a watchful eye on them. And it seemed harmless enough. Afterall, the worms are fatter on the otherside, right? And in this case, it was true. They also favored a spot along the front of the house for their daily dust baths in the nice (unplanted) flowerbed in the afternoon sun. So, for weeks, I’ve watched my flock fly and squeeze their way into the front yard for recess. The backyard had zero interest to them.
But then I planted my raised beds in the driveway. And my strawberries, in another raised bed started ripening. Eventually, they discovered the lush ground of the raised bed gardens. I’d repeatedly shoo them out of the gardens, but barely have my back turned before they’d jump back in. They loved to dig up vegetable and flower plants, dig holes, throw the precious nutrient-rich composted dirt out onto the driveway, and fight over the tasty food they found there.
Once they started killing my vegetable garden, I’d had enough. I decided to erect a 4-foot net along the top of the side yard fence. It’s not pretty, I admit, but it’s hidden by trees and hard to see from the front. And it was cheap. I constructed it from a roll of netting, some 5-foot wooden tomato stakes, and some zip ties. It took less than an hour.
(Even as I was putting the netting in place, my happy fliers were trying to pole vault over the fence. I was pleased to see their attempts thwarted.)
For the opening between the gate where the majority of them escaped, I rigged a leftover piece of 2×4 with two small bungee cords to fill up the crack, yet keep it easily removable (and easily replaced) when humans go in and out.
The first day, the girls couldn’t believe I confined them to the backyard. They huddled at the fence, begging me to let them out. I stood firm. After that, they seemed content enough to roam the backyard hunting for bugs. I’m hoping my gardens are a thing in their fading memory.
With just $22 worth of supplies and 45 minutes of time, my vegetables will be spared. And my girls are once again roaming happily during their daily recess. The only thing missing for them in their new confined space was a great place to bathe. So, Jake and I hauled the dirt from their favorite front yard bathing space into the backyard for them.
(Here’s the footage of them trying out their new bathing space…this is only 30 seconds or so after we dumped the dirt in a pile on their side of the fence.)
Ahhh, there’s peace in the kingdom again. We’re all happy campers!