Gardening with Chickens

Now that the weather is finally Spring-ish (we hit 60+ degrees yesterday!) I’ve been weeding/pruning the garden.  The Girls – my six gorgeous hens – could see me from their coop, and wanted VERY MUCH to come out and help.  They know that my trowel turns up more worms and bugs than their feet can.  Ellie, my Welsummer hen, was particularly demanding because she knows she is “my baby” and she’s spoiled rotten.  She kept running back and forth in front of her door, yelling for me to come and get her.  She’s so spoiled that she knows her name, comes when called, and has a favorite place to sun-bathe – my lap.

So finally, I let her out to garden with me.  I’d tried having all six Girls out in the garden at once last summer, when they were very young hens.  It hadn’t worked out too well, since they promptly scattered in six directions.  This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that I didn’t want them in certain parts of the garden, digging up my more fragile plants, and I can’t watch six hens AND garden at the same time.  Molly (my Rhode Island Red) had a particular knack for going exactly where she shouldn’t be.  But I’d taken one hen out at a time, and that was perfect.  Ellie, Antoinette (my Delaware), and Josie (my Barnevelder) were great at sticking right beside me, and providing conversation and spider control for their arachnophobic owner.

So Ellie was allowed out.  But then, of course, the other Girls could not only see me, but they could see her.  And they didn’t approve of such special treatment.  Sophie (my Silver Cuckoo Maran) was especially vocal, standing high on her perch and delivering a constant stream of arguments for why this wasn’t fair.  So then Sophie was allowed out too, and then Molly, and then Josie (to distract her from being broody), and then….before I knew it, all six were out.

But they were good!  They stayed close to me, working industriously, and it was only after they’d been out several hours that Molly started doing her disappearing act.  When I put them back in their yard (except for Ellie and Antoinette) they were contented.  And Ellie and Antoinette were soon tired too, and mostly wanted to sit on my lap while I weeded.  They love to squeeze in tight against my chest. and reach their heads up under my hair so that their beaks are against my neck.  We call this a “chicken hug”, and sometimes they are so happy while hugging and being petted that they actually purr.  Antoinette has a very growl-y rasping purr – it can be startling when she puts her beak close to my ear and purrs without warning!

One benefit of the chickens helping to garden is that almost all of our slug population seems to have vanished.  My friends who live nearby are complaining about having to put out slug bait, and I’ve barely seen a slug since we got the hens.  For the first time EVER, my violas are blooming without being eaten!  I love my chickens for so many reasons!

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2 responses to “Gardening with Chickens

  1. Hi Lisa, I just found your blog and am really enjoying it. =) We have chickens too and goats and dogs and cats… and thoroughly enjoy them all!

  2. This reminds me of Link from Zelda. He always has to chase chickens around!

    It’s a good thing to have such helpful chickens to help out!

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