March 15, 2013

Grubs And Bugs And Slugs, Oh My!

Most creepy crawly things don't bother me.  I have a healthy respect for snakes and spiders and I let them go their own way. These are attributes that are good if you have chickens. In fact the chickens absolutely expect it of you if you are an urban chicken keeper!

Talulah, our Welsummer, waiting patiently on the side.
When free ranging in the colder months (and there is no snow on the ground) bugs are a bit harder to find and sometimes you have to go in search of them. Recently that's what we've been doing. I help find creepy-crawly things and they devour them. So supervising a free ranging session now involves carrying a shovel. It also means I have six chicks under my feet a lot of the time. I do give them plenty of time to graze and scratch and come by things naturally but eventually they head my way with that 'mommy we're bored' look!

Talk about anticipation..!
Another reason for keeping chickens:  
Chickens are the greatest natural pest control system ever!

Another shovel-full coming up!
First I turn over every single rock, stepping-stone, planter, free-standing stumps and logs. The chickens do their thing and take care of every bug seen or unseen - scraping their plates clean, so to speak. Now, time to get the shovel. We have several raised beds that will be replanted soon for the spring season. As for now the only things growing deep, deep down in the soil are larvae that will turn into adults and ravage  anything we try to grow. This is where the shovel comes into play - literally. I turn over soil a little a at a time and let them play in it for a while. Then I move on to another spot. They usually end up completely working one bed. To them it's a never-ending BUG BUFFET!

Work it ladies!
By planting time, our soil will be so tilled and turned by the ladies we won't have to do a anything but toss in the seeds!  I'm certainly not going to complain about that. I'm really anxious to see how everything grows and (hopefully) flourishes after a year of help from  the chickens.

Ruby, our Aussie, keeping everyone on task!

Hurry up Spring!