Work on the chookhouse and yard has dropped back into non-urgent mode, because my friend who is going away, and whose chooks I thought I would be looking after, has decided that she wasn’t very happy with her moveable A-frame system and has found someone to take them permanently. She will eventually put a more permanent system in place and get more chooks. The whole thing has been an interesting learning curve for both of us.
Meanwhile, I have the chook coop in its final position and the roof and sides on the yard.
At one end of the yard, the nest box will poke through the wire wall, so I don’t have to enter the yard to collect eggs. At the other end will be some sort of a gate.
I’m also thinking about landscaping the yard to provide food and interest for the chooks.
I’m wondering about planting a fruit tree within the yard. Not for the chooks, but for me! It’ll be the only place where I’ll be able to keep out parrots, possums & rabbits. It will need to be pruned and shaped to keep it within bounds. I’m considering a cherry, as I don’t have one anywhere else. Whether the chooks will help themselves to the cherries remains to be seen. It’s probably worth a try anyway (unless a reader tells me I’ll be wasting my time and even so I’ll probably do it anyway, because making mistakes is a good way to learn!).
I also want to put in a small pool so that I can have azolla floating on the top. My friend’s chooks liked it when she gave it to them, so I figure the best way to go is for them to have their own supply, where they can just pick it off the water when they want. It will have to be a very small pool, nothing more than a shallow plastic dish sunk into the ground, with a couple of rocks or logs around it. An idea, anyway.
Along the outer, long side of the yard, I’m already planting some plants that the chooks will be able to peck at through the wire. Comfrey is the first one I’ve planted and I’m researching others. I’ve also put in a passionfruit vine to provide a bit of summer shade.
At the front end, where the gate will be, I’m thinking of a couple of wicking tubs, one on each side of the gate. If I put tomatoes in the tubs, I can tie them to the wire. Other plants, useful to the chooks, can be planted in the tubs and allowed to trail through the wire into the run where they can help themselves.
I’ve learned, from my friend’s chooks, that they often like to perch up off the ground in their yard, so I’m keeping an eye out in the bush for a nice twisted tree branch to suspend.
I read somewhere that chooks are fascinated by shiny things and will go for a few CD’s hanging around. Not sure about that one! What about a mirror? Can a chook recognise itself like a chimpanzee can? This opens up possibilities for all sorts of fun experiments!