When we first moved to Sunflower River, in 2007, one of the plans was to get goats some day. It’s still a plan.
Meanwhile, we raised meat chickens in chicken tractors on our pasture field for several years, until one year a dog from next door broke into the tractors and killed or scattered all of the chickens, all in one fatal afternoon.
Since then, we have not attempted to raise chickens in the field, as we cannot risk having to absorb that kind of emotional or financial loss more than once. Finally we have been able to make time to take the next step towards raising chickens out there again: we fenced the field!
First we went around the area we want to fence with string, and marked the line. Then we spent a long day in the winter sunshine pounding T-posts in along the line, and setting hefty wooden posts at the corners and for the gates (two truck-wide gates east and west, so we can get a tractor or a truck in and across if we need to, and one wheelbarrow-wide pedestrian gate for daily access for animal care). Then, a couple weeks later, we came back and used a come-along to string up the wire fencing.
In some areas, we needed to move the field’s irrigation berm, so that it would align with the fence. We fenced on top of the berm on three sides, to increase the height of the fence. We will still need to go along and add a strip of chicken wire to the bottom all around the field, to prevent the fence from being dug under by that dog, or other predators such as skunks and raccoons — a project we hope to ask some of our upcoming crop of spring interns to handle next month.
Rev has started to hang the gates, and we will be fixing up the chicken tractors and raising meat birds out there again this year!
We’re also tentatively planning on creating a workshop/class around processing meat chickens, so keep your eyes out for that post if you’re interested!