4 ways my chickens do yardwork
1. Pest Control. I'm not sure there's any more efficient natural method of bug reduction than free-ranging chickens. It's one of the best ways my chickens do yardwork.
They patrol the area for countless hours, tirelessly watching for the tiniest twinge of movement in the grass. They move through the lawn, not unlike a front across a weather map, each chicken watching her own space for a treat, until one lucky hen finds a jackpot. In an instant, they all take notice and scramble to get their share of her treasure.
2. Weeding. Another way my chickens do yardwork is weeding. They're great at clearing a space for a garden. There aren't any weeds growing in the immediate area around the run and coop. The grass has certainly taken some collateral damage, which I don't mind for this particular project. My chickens will not abide dandelions in the yard and have even cleared much of the tree line of poison ivy! (The thistles are still growing strong, though. Maybe I need goats?) The coolest part of the pest control and weeding is that it all translates into more nutritious eggs than you can get at a grocery store!
3. Fertilizing. With the task of clearing unwanted material from our space under way, I can move on to supplying fertile organic material for gardening. The heavy clay soil I find when I dig is in desperate need of supplementation. Once again, I find that my flock has risen to the challenge, and that my chickens do yardwork. Ah, chicken poop. The ubiquitous piles, plopped lovingly around my entire yard on a free-ranging day, are mostly concentrated in and around the run and coop. This is where I enlist the help of my heavy lifter, whom I married on account of his skills with a shovel. All the poopy goodness is semi-regularly scooped out of the run (with whatever bedding substrate I was able to get my hands on) and into the neighboring compost area, where it is mixed with other goodies for a surprisingly beautiful end product.
4. Working compost. I had this idea of a neat little compost area, divided into distinct areas of new materials, aging pre-compost and finished product. I've seen it done in magazines, so I know it's possible. However, my management system ended up working quite differently. Even though my composting area is not what I originally envisioned--looking more like piles of dirt with some food bits mixed in--I've still managed to make some pretty fertile material with the help of my feathered friends! Once again, my chickens do yardwork. They make a beeline for it every time the run door is opened. They look for tasty kitchen scraps in the first bin, find worms in the second, and dig bathing pits in the softest pile to reward themselves for their hard work. My chickens have been a significant help in the quest for my ideal lawn. Even their very existence is a giant step toward the goal. Yet, I will acknowledge that there are jobs for which they are not especially helpful. Particularly..