I don’t know how other urban chicken keepers are, but for us, this has been an evolving journey. We started with a little flock of three chickens whose every antic we thought was amazing and now we have a larger flock, a better understanding of the ways of chickens, and a different relationship with our girls. Our definition of “free range” has morphed a bit as well.
As many of you know, we let our girls range all over the garden during the late fall and winter months. Early spring brings about the days of “supervised free range” during the time when we are home. This means we use fencing, wires and barriers to keep the girls out of our early spring plantings. By about NOW (mid-spring), the days of even supervised free range are temporarily suspended. They are just too destructive to the growing garden. Last year, we built what we imagined would be a temporary run to keep them confined. We then modified that a bit for the winter months. Now, we’re up to version 3.0 and we’re quite happy with it!
Teri wanted a run that gave the girls so much room, it would be the next best thing to having an entire yard and she wanted it to be pretty. While Kori doesn’t really mind using recycled and reclaimed materials, Teri was ready for something that looked permanent, while still being very flexible. This new run is approximately 20 x 12 feet or 240 square feet. We are able to put the little coop or the grow pen in the middle so the big girls can get quite used to the young ones (and vice versa) and the entire flock is exposed to the same worms, germs, and bacteria. There is access to early morning sunshine (when we get it) and there will be shade from the apple and fig trees since this is in the corner of our mini orchard.
Would the big girls still like to have run of the yard? Well, yes, they would, but they are also getting used to the space of their new, expanded run. We’re hoping the teens will be a little more content from the beginning since this will be their home all along. Meanwhile, we were able take down all the makeshift fencing and barriers and our garden looks quite a bit nicer too!