One important lesson I have learned when free ranging chickens. Don’t let them anywhere near your garden. Either fence the chickens out or lock them in a pen and out of the garden which defeats the purpose of letting them go where they will.
I made the mistake of trying to plant my garden with chickens roaming the orchard and newly formed garden area. I carefully and painstakingly rototilled the soil. created neat rows and had hand picked all the rocks out of the newly turned ground. my hands looked like raw hamburger by the end of it.
Next, using a hoe i dug a neat trench for my corn seed to occupy. I had a pocketful of seed and walking the row i put down a corn seed. walking along i had, what i thought, was a perfectly place row of corn. I turned around to walk down the next row and put in another row of corn and to my shock and horror, I discovered that I had been followed by a small flock of chickens who thought it great fun to scratch out the corn bits I had buried and eat them. ”Thanks mom” the hens said to me. ”You don’t have to go to such work to hide the seed from us though. next time, try scattering it in the open, okay?”
They had destroyed my neat row and had consumed each and every kernel i had put down. I chased them out of my garden and told my spouse that we needed a fenced in chicken coop. Those birds must be locked up until my plants had a chance to grow. That turned out to be mistake number 2. on hindsight i should have fenced in my garden right away instead of leaving it in the open without a fence. Things would have worked a lot better in the long run with a lot less work and definitely a lot less trouble if i had just left well enough alone.
The chickens were doing their job. They didn’t know they were not supposed to eat my seeds faster then i put them down. It certainly served them well. There were some rather plump birds waddling their way out of the garden when they were finished. Ah, the joys of a hobby farm. complete with blisters, sore muscles and fat chickens.