No self-sufficient farm is complete without chickens. There is just no substitute for fresh eggs from free range chickens. There is also no substitute for the frustration of watching that big tomato, day after day, until it is almost ready to pick, only for it to be pecked by a chicken.
It was just such an occasion that prompted me to build a chicken pen before garden planting time this spring. It is a reasonable size pen for about a dozen hens and has a wire top to keep them in and predators out. The only problem is that they are not out in the garden eating bugs and weed seeds. This raises the feed bill and lowers the egg quality.
With the garden harvested or frosted, (except for a row of late turnips), I decided to let the chickens out during the day. They are in a habit of roosting in the hen house, so it will be no problem shutting them up in the evening to keep critters out.
They will have to be penned up in the spring, before the garden is planted, but by then they will have eaten a tremendous quantity of bugs and weed seeds that would have over wintered in the yard and garden.
With the added protein, the eggs are sure to be better and more plentiful. I am really looking forward to increased egg production, and it is truly a pleasure to see the chickens so happily scratching about.