Trampolining hensRSS feed

Posted: Tuesday 23 March, 2004

by Dan at 1:13pm in Poultry 2 comments Add your own

On Sunday afternoon I planted about 400 Sturon onion sets in the big bed beside our garage. Since onions form a part of just about every meal we eat these will keep us going for about 10 months after harvest.

One of the downsides of keeping hens is the need to protect everything in the garden which can be damaged by the hens pecking, and scratching. With many vegetables, especially those sown direct or planted as small sets or tubers, that means netting. You can probably see where this is going.

I spent a good deal of time before planting the sets making supports and pegs out of old fencing wire and unravelling a large (4mx5m) net to cover the bed. After planting I stretched the net across the fence and supports, and pegged firmly into the ground. It's just high enough to stay in situ until harvest, and easy enough to take down a couple of times during the growing season to weed (onions hate competition).

Yesterday I arrived home from work with the aim of blocking on the tomato and pepper seedlings which have already germinated. The onion netting was still in place, but there was a large hen dropping right in the middle which indicated that all was not quite right. Regardless I proceeded to make some soil block mixture in the shed. When I came out I was greeted by the sight of 4 hens bouncing on the netting pecking at the sets on their way down, and balancing themselves with open wings on the way up. It was extraordinary, and I watched for a few minutes before coming to my senses and shooing them off. I've erected a temporary barrier from various bits of wood, large pots and the wheelbarrow to try to stop them getting close again, but I suspect they had far too much fun to give up easily...



Wednesday 24 March, 2004 at 6:54pm

You're pulling our leg, aren't you? Tell me you made that up, please. It's not even the first of April yet...


Wednesday 24 March, 2004 at 9:41pm

It's the truth, I swear! Hens are incredible improvisors. Before last year I wouldn't have believed hens could jump vertically about 18 inches, but that's exactly what they did to reach and pluck some of the blackcurrants and blackberries which were growing over their protective netting.

If I catch them at it again I'll do my best to capture it on camera.

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