Thanks, everybody, for your kind words about Dot. We're slowly coming to grips with losing her.
In the meantime, the chickens -- whose emotional lives are much simpler -- have been hard at work. I extended the area of the side path they have access to, and they have been eating and digging and basically destroying all signs of plant life they can get their beaks on.
This is the view from the chicken yard back to the house. You can see all signs of life have been cleared away from their original extended area.
And now they are eating their way through the rest of the path (I took this picture a week ago; there is much less vegetation now). They seem to prefer to hang out on the path rather than the Fern Walk, perhaps because it is sunnier, but sometimes I see them way down at the end of the Fern Walk, little heads sticking out of the overgrown weeds. They have very specific preferences about where they want to scratch and dig that are not totally obvious to me.
They also really, really only want to lay their eggs in their own nest box, and have resisted every alternative nest box I have given them, so any chicken weeding needs to be done with extensions of their yard that allow them to go back to their room to lay. I am going to try making a little mobile chicken house that is more like the arrangement they have in their room (hop into a room, then into the nest box) to see if that will make them happier.
The main issue with the extended chicken yard concept continues to be the dogs and their intense interest in chicken butts. Pretty much all the reinforcements and weird fencing things going on there are to keep the dogs out, rather than the chickens in.
posted by ayse on 04/08/11