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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Yay! Pastured Chickens!

Long believing that livestock animals should have a good life and one bad day, it's been bothering me for a long time now that I couldn't pasture my chickens. I've been racking my brain on how to accomplish it cheaply - Steve wouldn't let me invest in an electric fence for them, and rightly so. I just needed to be able to figure out how to let them out unattended so that they can go in and out of their enclosure at will, and in the meantime, scratch and eat at anything they wanted within the space I gave them.

Click on it so you can see it
And then early last week, an idea came to me that has proven to work.  All I needed to do was find some inexpensive netting, install some hooks around the yard in strategic places, hang the netting on said hooks and let the girls out.  I found 25' x 50' poultry netting at Amazon for $36.25, and bought a pack of 50  #10 zinc-plated screw hooks at a big box store for about ten bucks.  What I wasn't counting on was how the netting laid out; it starts in one corner and builds until it's the correct dimension in one direction and then quits when it's the correct dimension in the perpendicular direction.  Kind of hard to picture, I realize, but to stretch and then stop and hold a rectangular shape, you have to hold it on the bias so that the holes are square and not diamond shaped. This required me to cut the darn thing on the diagonal, and then tie the pieces together to make one long net.  My finished height was six feet, but I don't know how long it is.  Unfortunately, there was a lot of waste. I'd cut five feet off the end before I'd figured out the diagonal issue, and then there are a lot of triangular waste pieces from cutting the fence out of the netting. Fortunately, I already had some plastic twine, so tying it together didn't require a trip back to the store. But I finally got it up and it works really well.  

Click on it
The girls seemed to be really happy to come out and scratch in the grass and weeds; today I finished tying more fence together and we reconfigured it to go around the apple trees.

I'm hoping that by doing more foraging out in the yard they'll save me a lot more than the roughly fifty bucks it cost me to put the fence up for them.  

But yay! Now we're getting pastured eggs! And I feel better now that my chickens are having a more chicken-y life. 

Everybody wins!







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