Monday, September 19, 2005

The Chicken Tractor

Saturday morning the boys and I converted an old dog kennel (6' x 6') we had inherited with the property into a chicken tractor. The hardest part was moving it from underneath one of our cedar trees over to the garden area. The old dog house attached to the kennel had at least 7 black widow spiders attached. I think we dispatched them all.

Two sides of the tractor are covered with plywood. (This will give the chickens a shaded area. Two sides are covered with chicken wire or other fencing wire. The top has fencing wire. We have put a small shelter inside the tractor - however, we plan to get them a retractable roof (tarp) for bad/cold weather and put in a perch. We took 6 male (we believe) chickens (about 12 weeks old) and put them in the tractor. The tractor is in part of the garden in which Mrs. Curley won't plant in until spring.

The idea is that you let the chickens manure and till your garden by rotating the tractor over the garden. Chickens naturally lay their manure and scratch. Why waste it all in one place? So we move the tractor every couple days. Further if (as is true for us) we want to prepare total new ground for planting in the spring, the chickens will take care of the hard work for us. The grass they eat will also cut the feed bill (a little).

Now the tractor is not on wheels, so we will see how well it moves later today. I do believe it will generally be more than a one-man job. You have to make sure you don't run over the chickens while moving it. I will post pictures when available (probably in a couple months based on my track record.)

If this works out, I will probably make a second one - but specifically designed for the purpose.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!


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