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Fairy Wren Cottage blog is a journal of sorts about seasonal living & stopping to see the beauty in our day.
Your time is precious, it's the greatest gift we can give ourselves & it's humbling that you would  take time out of your day to visit.

hello & welcome!

Jude 

 

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Our big Hen House & yard. Home to our sweet Silkie & Pekin hens & Little Dutchie a Dutch Bantam.

Do you watch BBC Gardener’s World? There was a segment in an episode late 2017 about scientific studies proving that growing plants close to buildings helps insulate a building, there is the micro climate they create plus so many other benefits.
I think we may have all realised that to some extent but a scientific study proving it is another tick for the Save the Environment: Plant More Trees, Shrubs, Climbers, Annuals & Perennials Team. I can’t help but think that a hen house or chook pen or aviary or what ever else you choose to call it is such a great opportunity to also do this.
The Hen House yard is such an under utilised area, by adding plants & trees the hens instantly have places to shelter, rest in the shade on a hot day and have an interesting environment to spend their time in. Much nicer than an empty yard  where the ground can become compacted often becoming a mud pit in colder wetter months & too hot to be in during the summer months.
The Hen House yard also becomes a garden that attracts wildlife, beneficial insects & bees.

Springtime in the Hen House yard.

Most of the plants in this garden in our Henhouse yard are from cuttings, plants grown from seed and plants shifted here because they didn’t grow well somewhere else or needed to be fenced off from rabbits or wallabies. We bought the fruit trees and climbing roses.

Little Dutchie is the only Dutch Bantam in this yard, about the same size as a pigeon he doesn’t do any damage.

One of the ways we guard the plants from being damaged by hens scratching is we mulch heavily, the mulch comes from the hay used in the nesting boxes, then goes to the chook pen floor, then to the garden, by then seeds from the hay or seed scattered from the feed bowl are eaten, even if they do germinate the hens love the fresh shoots.
There are some other ways  we use to stop hens scratching up a plant or damaging roots:
* Making a teepee from fruit tree cuttings to guard  small establishing trees, plants & dahlia tubers.
*Placing 3 or 4 logs from the wood pile around the base of the plant, cut side down to stop the hens getting a splinter in their foot if they walk on the logs.
*A tree guard large enough to cover the plant or tree’s root system.
*Putting rocks or pine cones around the base of the plant.
*Three hay bales placed in a rectangle shape around the base of the tree, the hens love sunbathing on them and it’s an instant seat to plonk yourself on in between garden jobs for a chat with the chooks!
We keep our flock numbers low to prevent over crowding.
The little Silkies & Pekin’s have feathered feet, so don’t do as much damage as a larger hen.
This garden wouldn’t be half as successful if there were larger hens spending their time in the yard  (eg. Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Legbars, Barnevelders) but they would go well in a small orchard or garden that doesn’t have ground covers or fragile plants. Just use secure tree guards large enough to cover the young tree’s root system and mulch well, at least 10cm thick.
When we do plant something we plant it deeper than usual, there was a segment on Gardening Australia that Angus Stewart did on this subject some years ago that proved planting deeper than usual the more resilient the plant was, so this evidence coupled with the fact that the surface roots
of a plant are harder to reach plus having a thick layer of mulch on top seems to do the trick!

Percy Pekin! There are lots of spots for the hens to rest, have a dust bath and shelter from the hot sun.

Like secret passageways the Silkies & Pekin’s have made pathways underneath the canopies of the herbs, plants, trees and raspberry canes, the overhead canopy protects from unwelcome hawks that sometimes visit our garden and would like our hens on their menu.

We have one of the drinking bowls placed in the shade underneath the Ornamental Quince where the hens always have their afternoon nap. They stay in the cool and don’t have to go looking for their water bowl walking around during the heat of the day.

If you are interested in providing a garden for your hens doing some research on beneficial herbs for hens is helpful.  By planting beneficial herbs in the Hen House yard the hens can self medicate.  We don’t apply any pesticides/medication/dust/chemicals to the hens or their hen house.

When we are in the Kitchen Garden we open the gate and the little hens have a fossick around on the lawn, it’s a good opportunity for them to have some extra green pick, they have also made a dust bath under the bench seat, (totally not convenient when you are sitting on the bench and they are flapping the dust from their wings underneath you!) and they do like to have a sticky beak at what we are doing and follow us around the garden, especially Percy the Pekin but I think you already guessed that!

 

Is there anything better than having feathered companions in the garden?!

Jude x

 

 

Our Hen House Yard.

January 9, 2019

  1. Selina B

    January 10th, 2019 at 5:56 am

    lovely chook garden!
    i now have 15 birds, most are the Isa Browns & a small mix of bantams, had intended to use them to hatch out eggs but haven’t had any luck there yet. they have a big yard to roam around in atm but i would like to create an orchard yard for them in the future once the border is fenced (had problem with dogs attacking chooks) i have made a small ‘chook garden’ that they can get to through the fence, it’s keeping it full of vegies for them which is hard, very hot, dry & humid here so takes longer for things to grow.
    lovely post
    thanx for sharing

  2. Margo

    January 10th, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Hens are lovely companions, years ago on the farm we had a big brown hen that would settle herself and all her chicks on some newborn puppies in the dog shelter, while the dog took a break to run around and have a feed and drink.

  3. Jude Van Heel

    January 11th, 2019 at 3:53 am

    Thank you for sharing such a sweet sweet story! Aren’t animals just amazing, especially the way different animals communicate with each other, Jude x

  4. Sally

    January 11th, 2019 at 3:15 am

    Hi Jude, this is such a gorgeous yard, your hens are so lucky! We have bigger girls who scratch up everything so have fenced off the vegie patch and they happily scratch around in the rest of the yard (which is mulched, can’t keep lawn alive!) and find cool spots under the established trees.
    Thanks for the ideas for guarding plants, we’ll be putting in some native shrubs in the autumn and will need to protect them until they’re established.
    Cheers, Sally at One Family, One Planet blog

  5. Jude Van Heel

    January 11th, 2019 at 3:56 am

    Hi Sally,
    Your hens sound very happy and content.
    Good Luck with the planting.in autumn, it is such a good time to plant natives isn’t it 🙂
    Jude x

  6. Sally

    January 12th, 2019 at 5:22 am

    Hi Jude, your poultry yards are like the botanical gardens with all the gorgeous flowers and greenery. I wish we could provide similar in our poultry area, but due to large numbers of vigorously scratching and dust bathing layer hens, meat birds and roosters we provide fruit trees and large clumps of wormwood for them to shelter beneath. The Pekin bantams however, have the luxury of access to all of the gardens and how lovely it is to interact with them when working in the gardens or walking through. I’ve been really enjoying all of your posts Jude, especially the beautiful photos. XX

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