After raging at my animals the other day (and reading the comments from readers of this blog who felt that perhaps it was the farmer, not the animals who was stupid) I decided it was time to break up the mob into their summertime groups. So, I spent an hour rearranging my fences and wrangling chickens. Everyone seems happier with their separate spaces. The goats, cows, and ponies will spend the next month or so picking at the grass on the hillside. They will be moved slowly until the grass really starts kicking in. The chickens will follow, one paddock behind them, cleaning up the leavings. The system works quite well most of the time.
In the spirit of pro-activeness (and to keep me from making complete fool of my self yet again) I will also be clipping chicken wings. I have about a dozen who have discovered that a big hop and some flapping is all it takes to clear the fence. They have been enjoying rummaging through everything in the yard. Not a problem yet, but I going to start prepping garden beds, and chickens can take apart a raised bed in a matter of minutes. So, a few trimmed feathers to encourage them to stay in their area and out of the garden is worth the effort.
The first time I did this I could have made a ton of money on tickets. All the neighbors lined up to watch the show and I didn't disappoint. Imagine one crazy farmer, 50 chickens, and a coop in the middle of a 6000 square foot ring. I did have the aid of a chicken catcher (a 4 foot wire with a hook on one end to snag a leg with, really useful, but not at a dead sprint). I eventually got everyone trimmed, but it was a bit traumatic for all involved. (One of the neighbors nearly ended up in the hospital from laughing too much). Now I'm smarter. I'll go to the coop after dark. The girls will just sit there on the roosts while I pick them up, one by one, clip their wings, and tuck them back in their space. No fuss, no muss. There is something cathartic about running around, raging at the top of your lungs for a few minutes, but I've already done that this month.