Author Archives: caroljarka

Back yard fencing with chickens

The fresh eggs and “fowl” entertainment are great, but free range urban chicken farming has some drawbacks.  To keep the chickens in your yard rather than your neighbors you may need to get creative with fencing.  I’d love to have a back yard straight out of a Sunset magazine photo shoot, with a mega bucks Martha Stewart style chicken coop, but I don’t have that kind of budget.  I’m slowly working on improving things as I learn about chicken tending.  Right now that involves a lot of wire.

Here is Laverne showing off that she can scale 5 foot fences.

fence without wire topper

Given her druthers she’d like to be roosting in the neighbor’s tree rather than hanging around on the ground.  Wing clipping and fence topping to the rescue.

In a tree

By cutting a 6″ wide strip of hardware cloth and stapling it to the wooden fence there is no longer a solid area for her to flutter up to.

Fence topper

Originally I thought I’d keep the hens contained to the perimeter of the yard.  There is a “chunnel” along two sides of the fence.  It is about 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall.  The width is enough for me to walk through, or push a small wheelbarrow through.  Hopefully it is tight enough to discourage hawks from swooping down on the hens.   You can see it in the photo above and below.  Here are the girls looking longingly at the house while we enjoy viewing them from our kitchen table.

Perimeter fencing

As well as providing us with fresh colorful eggs, they are very fun to watch.  Also eating grass is good for their health so we started letting them out in the yard more.  Our current program consists of letting them loose in the yard from sunrise to about 9:30 am.  At that time they are put behind the fence in the more confined area.  The “chunnel” leads them to the big area shown below which is under a lilac and maple tree, again offering some protection from hawks.  Later in the day – 4:30 or so – we let them back into the yard to eat more grass before they go to roost for the night.

Black Fence

I use to raise vegetables in the back yard.  Now with free range chickens the vegetables are fenced off in tiny little plots.  This is  a scene from the winter, so there is not much growing.  The girls have access to the areas in the off season to scratch up bugs and help fertilize.  The first plot is surrounded by chicken wire with PVC posts.  A broody hen has proven capable of getting over it in her desperation to get back to the nest, but usually they don’t bother.

chicken wire around 2nd veggie plot

This small plot below is surrounded by green poultry wire.  It’s only 3′ tall so I can do most of my gardening over the sides once it’s planted.  But I leave a side available to open for easy access.

Poultry fencing around veggie plot

In this location we use to have a lovely bed of violets.  It is also next to one of the chooks favorite dust bath areas.  I’ve replanted violets in the front yard so I can enjoy them, and for now covered this little patch with hardware cloth so they can avoid being scratched to death.

saving the violets

Under the chimney is a great place for the chooks to hang out when it’s raining.  Here I’ve used some white plastic lattice fencing bent around the area to keep them in.

white lattice

I keep dreaming of a more attractive way to keep the birds contained yet free ranging.  Every time I start talking about enclosing them more my husband points out that I wouldn’t be happy.  Much of the joy we get from keeping chickens is watching their antics as they cavort around the yard.


New Chicks for a new year

2013 chicks week 1

January seems a little early to be picking up our 2nd mini flock of chicks.  I was planning on March, but work was a tad stressful last week and Tennis man was down with the flu.  So what’s a gal to do but some retail therapy?  I checked in with Fashionista girl before I took the plunge – should we get 8 week old pullets or day old chicks?  Between us we decided that tiny balls of fluff were much more fun.

Months ago I posed the big question to my chicken group – I love this Yahoo group PDXBackyardChix

I’m dreaming of spring and what kind of chicks to consider adding to my suburban mini farm…
Plenty of time to ponder..
Spotted eggs?
Eye candy in feathering?
Eye candy in eggs?
Temperament – knowing each bird is individual?
Egg laying reliability?
Lack of broodiness?
Whatever is at the feed store the day I wander in?

And basically that is what we got… after wandering through 5 different local urban farm stores in Portland I came home with: Whatever was in the feed store that day, pretty eggs, good personalities, and pretty to look at!  I came home with a Welsummer, Red Speckled Sussex, and an Easter Egger.  I can’t tell the first two apart – they both have little chipmunk stripes down their backs.  The Easter Egger stands out already sporting her puffy little cheeks.

For now the chicks are set up in a plastic tub with some hardware cloth on top.  In a week or two I’ll move them into a larger brooder. Here is what my last brooder looked like – a dog kennel! It worked great and kept the chicks safe and sound. Since that was sold at a garage sale last summer we’ll have to be creative again.

Chicks roosting in their DIY brooder

Dog Kennel Chick Brooder

Its real easy to forget the stresses of the day when you hear the sweet chirping and hold these little puff balls.

Some kinda wonderful

I’m on a mission to give away a dollar a day. By giving I hope to learn to receive and learn more about life along the way. Today I gave my dollar to the man at the entrance to my local Trader Joe’s in NW Portland. We talked about the little dog on his lap bundled up under a blanket. He admitted the blanket was to keep the dog warm, not him. It must have been about 30 degrees out. He reached out to hand me a copy of Street Roots, the local homeless newspaper. I almost said “no thanks, I don’t need the paper, just keep the money” but I reached out and took it from him. When I got around to looking at it there was a hand written message along the top:

I always knew you were some kinda wonderful – you’re Awesome! Thank you, Daniel  

Wow – today was a great day to receive that input.  And I will feel better giving in the future thanks to his generosity of the written word. Thank you Daniel!! You have brought me Joy. And look at this lovely quote that popped up for me today to fully emphasize the message.

“Positivity tip: It pays to be kind—altruism stimulates the same pleasure centers as food & sex. What a deal!”

I know you are awesome too! Tell me, what kind of wonderful are you?


Clearly this is just a test. A real blogger would have a clue what they were doing and a plan for what’s next! But being as this is not a real blog I get to do what I want and have fun doing it! Like use lots of exclamation points and talk about my chickens more than anything else.

Today is about uploading a picture of Lucille. And I must say that seems to be a very large photo of her. Kind of takes over the whole page. Well, the photo’s up so more about Lucille. She is a delightfully goofy Polish hen. She lays a lovely olive green egg, sometimes, particularly when it is sunny and warm out, say April to September. And then only about every other day. So if you are in the egg business you don’t want too many Lucille’s in your flock. If, however, you are a casual suburban chicken farmer like me Lucille is a lovely addition to your back yard.  You can’t get more local than your back yard and green eggs are cool.

Did you know that chickens are chicken? Seriously, they are rather timid in many situations. This weekend, being a hard working suburban Portland chicken farmer, I spent 5 minutes out in the coop. That’s one of the secrets of backyard chicken farming. It only takes about 5 minutes a day. So I spent my 5 minutes adding a new bedding to the coop. The chickens didn’t seem to notice it when they went in that night, but in the morning they would not leave the coop because this Evil stuff was on the ground. It took me 20 minutes to notice they weren’t in the back yard, go discover the problem, then pick them up and place them on the ground.

The rest of their day was spent outside foraging.  Come evening, when all chickens go to roost, all the hens disappeared as usual. But Lucille showed up again alone She walked right up to the patio door and peered in to see if there was anyone to rescue her. How could she get in the coop across that evil new substance? I laughed at her and walked back to the coop with her. I swooped her up and placed her with her friends and all was again well in the universe.

Luckily they don’t stay chicken for too long, today they all amazingly traversed the new bedding as if it had always been there.

Starting at the beginning comes back to what came first – the chicken or the egg? Might as well start my post with the egg since there will be chicken scratch coming soon. And recipes may include chicken or eggs… So here’s a link to a blog on how to cook the perfect egg. I’m torn between poached and scrambled. What’s your favorite way to eat an egg?


hmmm… I guess I’ll have to find out how to make a link! Onward.