Last year, when I allowed the chickens to roam freely in the vegetable garden portion of the backyard. BIG mistake. I loved watching them, but they played havoc with the plants and made a huge mess of the gravel paths, scattering dirt everywhere. The chicken's main strategy is just to spread everything out all over the place, and keep spreading it out until they have eaten every bug, worm and spec of plant matter.
Once they had eaten all of the low hanging bean leaves they would leap to snatch bites if the higher leaves. Lettuces were defenseless, and cherry tomatoes were enjoyed like candy.
So this year I penned a 50 foot run along the back of the house for them to enjoy. The only plant they can get at is the Laurel hedge, and I'm secretly hoping they will eliminate it. They have plenty of room and I deliver regular shipments of sod, weeds, kitchen scraps and cracked corn for their enjoyment.
But last week Queenie and the Fonz managed to get into the Backyard Farm, where I had just planted chard starts and lettuce from seed. The lettuce had just started to sprout and the chard was still tender and delicious.
Not content just to celebrate their delicious, new found freedom with a leisurely, careful stroll amongst the tender chard starts and freshly sprouted lettuce seed, the monsters decimated the plants and left a huge mess to remind me who's in charge.
Luckily they didn't notice the peas, rapini and arugula, or maybe I just caught them before they had a chance to go to work on these plants.
Oh well. I've got more seed, so I'll start over and maybe fortify the fence between their side and mine.