Checking in with Better Farm's Chickens

Ever since we brought Sissy (left in photo above) and Scarlet (right) in to keep Henrietta (center, obviously) company, the chicken scene in Better Farm's garden has changed dramatically.

Three chickens' level of food and water, not to mention their effect on the ground inside their run (and the hay inside their little den) is significantly different from the days of just one South American hen with a busted-up leg. We were careful to invite only the nicest young chickens we could find (thanks Jody!) into Henrietta's home, so they wouldn't cause any trauma to the previously battered princess.

We let the chickens run freely whenever we're outside gardening, as the 100-by-80-foot garden enclosure works very well to keep the birds from wandering onto Cottage Hill Road or into an open field for an alert hawk to grab. Here's Henrietta doing her thing this morning, being polite enough to not pull the small plants out of the ground and focusing instead on worms and weeds:
What a gal.

While Henrietta, Sissy, and Scarlet romped around our vegetable garden, I took on the dirty job of cleaning out the coop (the dirtied hay was put directly into our compost pit and scattered sparingly—too much will kill plants—along our rows of veggies) and moving the whole tractor mechanism a few feet over; as Sissy and Scarlet managed to rip out every blade of grass in their run. Here's the track they left behind, next to a shot of the grass I moved the chicken tractor over.
This area, as well as all the space we'll be composting on throughout the fall and winter, will make for extremely fertile planting ground next spring. And with a fresh track of tall grass to play in, our lovely lovely hens are back to scratching and pecking away, eating up hundreds of worms, crickets, and horse flies (thanks ladies!) daily.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.