Tuesday, April 5, 2011

DIY Tractor and Happy Chickens

It took longer than expected, but the flock has a new tractor. Not a John Deere, though I crave one badly, but rather a DIY masterpiece of PVC pipe, chicken wire, bird netting, shade cloth, and baling twine.

It took a lot of evenings to string together enough time to tie down everything, but the chicken wire and bird netting are secured in place. The tractor is fully enclosed and safe from casual predation. Obviously, chicken wire would not stop a determined squirrel, let alone a dog or a fox.

Doctor Dolittle helped finish the tie job. Then Doc helped move the tractor to a suitably overgrown patch of pasture. We propped up the corners to create a chicken gap and went to fetch the flock.

I opened the gate and Doc called "Chick! Chick! Chick!" to the birds. They looked up at Doc. They looked at the open gate. They looked at each other. Then, as if animated by one tiny chicken brain, the whole flock went berserk.

They squawked and rushed the gate. I bravely ran away.

Doc stood in the passage to the house yard, blocking the way with a hazing pole. I followed with the other pole and kept the flock moving toward the tractor. They eyed us with suspicion, but so long as there was greenery ahead of them they were willing to cooperate.

We hazed them into the tractor and then lowered it to the ground, trapping them inside with the water supply and the greenery. They looked at us. They looked at the greenery. They looked at each other. Then they sprang into action. Oh the chickeny joy!

They clucked and scratched. They ate shoots and leaves. They ate bugs and invisible bits of deliciousness.

Once the flock demolished most delectable parts of that patch of ground, Doc helped me scoot the tractor, and the enclosed chickens, to another section of green pasture. Oh the chickeny joy!

They repeated their ecstatic feasting on the most delectable parts. We watched them wind down and decided to put them back in the chicken pen.

We propped up one end again, hazed them out, and then Doctor Dolittle enticed them into the pen. I closed the gate, we breathed our relief, and then high-fived.

Tractor plus greenery equals happy chickens!

Chickens in new tractor

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