Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Giving a chicken run the stubble-rub

Nobody likes to live in a cage. And while chickens are kinda stupid animals - and are probably indifferent between the moments where they remember they're surrounded by walls of aviary wire - I hardly feel good about seeing them behind that mesh of little squares. Empathetically, I find myself living in a chicken coop, which is kind of uncomfortable because there are chickens in here.

Up until now I've had a temporary chicken run set up out of flimsy plastic trellis, staked into the ground with rusting rust-proof plastic-coated stakes. After almost 18 months, its getting sort of tired. It droops. The grass grows up through it, and deep down inside, I know that Kikuyu is smugly grinning at me every time I see it there in its un-touchable glory. And on that point, its also got gaping holes where my garden trimmer happily chewed through the plastic last weekend, leaving said Kikuyu pret-ty much intact. But more than that it looks like someone built a veneer of ugly across my backyard.

Oh how the guilt washes over me when I open the door and the chickens run madly for their pre-prepared holes of dirt to roll like someone's lit them on fire. They do get out as often as possible, but only when someone is home - because the arrangement isn't sturdy enough to prevent our little Houdinis from attempting a Steve-McQueen and tearing up the vege-patch like the absent-minded, ground-dwelling cockatoos I know them to be. No plant is safe while the chickens are on the loose - except perhaps the despised Pennywort which they won't touch, to my great frustration. So much spite for such small animals!

For a while I'd be planning a permanent chicken run. But true to my reputation, I was hardly going to stop exercising my rump with a bit of a lounge-chair workout unless it was going to do me favours in the long run. So before I strode out into the early autumn rain last month, star-pickets and chook-wire in hand, I had spent a considerable amount of time in before-mentioned lounge-chair in a very contemplative position, fingers rubbing unshaven stubble.

And so the pickets clanged into the ground along the back of my orange-orchard. With some left-over hardwood fence palings, I banged up two doors which hide themselves nicely in the landscape of fence. Then with the wire tucked into the ground and tied to the stakes, the only remaining effort was to make a chicken-size door into the new area.

This set-up adds nicely to this corner of the garden. I put the orange trees next to the chicken coop to provide them with shade from the summer heat. Now the chickens pay for that privilege in daily deposits which will slowly work their way downhill to feed the trees. They also do a good job of keeping my neighbour's weed garden separated from my own. And the chickens should be much healthier & happier for the access to the dirt and green.

So you see, there is merit to laziness after all. Seriously, the stubble-rub should be a yoga pose.


  1. howdy. i live in tx. how do i send you an funny story to your email? ( i am new to blogs )

  2. Such a nice post! Thanks for sharing those info.

  3. Well written article. I've read your post giving a chicken run the stubble-rub and got some really necessary info.