The most pleasurable chicken net move yet
One of my most dreaded chores on the farm is moving the electric poultry-net. It’s a critical tool — we’ve never once had a ground predator issue — but it is a bear to reconfigure.
The way we’ve always done it is wait for all the chickens to go in at night, then with flashlights take it down, then do our best not to tangle it up with varying degrees of success as we re-stake it in its new position. Once in a while we’d go super early in the morning before they woke up, but evenings generally worked best with our schedule.
I would get so frustrated with Beth’s inability to follow my hands as I worked that my in-laws got me a headlamp for my birthday. I think someone gave them a hint on that one… Sweaty, aggravated, and tired, our payoff is getting to see the happy chickens go after all their new greenery the next morning.
Tonight was the first move of the year, — they were kept a bit longer on the deep bedding we set up for winter so that new chicken savanna plantings get established. And I did things a bit differently.
As if the sun is pulls an invisible string attached to each chicken as it sets, they collect into their coop. This evening, about an hour before dusk, I began taking the net down, letting both them and myself enjoy the reward of the move before it happened. It was like getting desert first, quite literally for them. They went to town on fresh salad and even ventured out further than I expected.
I measured and marked out their new empire and used the electric mower to make a clean path so the net wouldn’t ground out. As the final stakes were untangled and stuck in the ground, the last hens popped into the coop.
This may not have been an implementation of a fancy permaculture concept. But working while daylight was left and letting the chickens play (which made me happier, too), was certainly working more closely with the natural properties at hand. I’d much rather have a better designed net, and there are tangible improvements I have planned for future moves, but I can say tonight was nearly enjoyable.