This morning the hens were keen to potter about outside until they stepped into their garden and felt the force of the bitterly cold winds. Enticed by the contents in their daily bucket of weeds, herbs and mustard greens they soon hopped back inside. A hand full of sunflower seeds is a favourite for them too.
I am mindful that the hens have enough green pick and diversity in their diet at this time of year. With the hawks visiting our garden looking for an opportunity to put one of our little hens on their menu we are always vigilant, the hens spend more time in the henhouse rather than free ranging outside. The hens also preferring the warmth of the henhouse too. They go into the inside area, sitting on the hay bales and stare contently out the henhouse windows that catch the warmth of the little morning sunshine we do get. The insulated walls help as well. If I am cosy and warm inside I sit better when the animals in our care are cosy and warm too.
What’s in the daily bucket of greens?
1.It varies each day, depending on what needs cleaning up to prevent slugs/snails gathering around the lower leaves of vegetables growing at the moment.
2. I don’t necessarily pull the weeds out of the ground but tear a handful of leaves off to prevent the weed from seeding and I also don’t want to disrupt the soil and microbes for as long as possible. It means that I am growing weeds for chook food that adds diversity to their diet when not much is growing in the garden.
3. Also in the bucket on any given day is mustard green leaves.
4. Sprigs of thyme, marjoram or lemon balm.
5. Young fennel shoots, the hens particularly like these when they are starting to lay again (which is now).
6. One or two handfuls of grass or clover that grows along the sides of the raised garden beds, it saves getting the brush cutter out and therefore saves on labour and petrol. Remember that we rarely mow in the Kitchen Garden and doing this kind of daily gathering contributes to less mowing.
The added bonus of setting the goal of collecting a bucket full of goodness each day for the hens is that I actually have to get out in the garden in wintertime, rain, hail or shine to do it! It motivates me to move my body and exercise. And you know what…once I am out in the garden I don’t really want to come inside, my health and wellbeing feel better for it!
Hope this finds you safe and well, take precious care, happy gardening and hen keeping.
Growing food for Hens.
August 12, 2021