Clearing the ground

We’ve had a couple of warm, sunny days … but the ground will be saturated for a long time whatever the weather. Still, if we’re to get some more hens (more about that later) we need to get on with things. So today we made a start.

These are the ‘before’ pictures …

IMG_5287First thing was to move the fencing … and I forgot to take photos until afterwards!

IMG_5288Under the apple tree is a lovely part of the garden, now just mud … and a few daffodils and snowdrops! All this needs to be reseeded with grass.


The Hen Run (a fruit cage, reinforced with stones around, and wire attached) – the old woodchip needs to be raked off and piled against the back wall to rot down (it takes at least a year if it’s mixed with chicken manure, longer otherwise). Then I’m going to lime the ground, before putting down split bamboo screening underneath fresh woodchip. The idea is that the screening will prevent the woodchip getting lost in the mud, which will also hopefully help with drainage. We’d priced it up at £60 in B&Q, but found it much cheaper in Wilkinsons! We’ve yet to source the woodchip, probably also about £60 per load.


The Hen Garden – our previous brood had the free range of this area (although we kept the grass fenced off from time to time to allow it to grow/recover). We’ll fence round this area, to leave a path along the side and back wall … and put grass seed down across the whole space. We’ll give it time to grow and establish, before allowing the new girls out for a couple of hours a day. We can’t make it fox proof, so will have to restrict their access to the Hen Garden to times when we are at home.

We’ll start with temporary fencing, but might eventually use something more permanent and slightly higher – chicken wire on wooden fence posts, perhaps?

As for the new girls … we are really missing having hens in the garden, and eggs for breakfast, so have decided to start with a few (?four) commercial POL brown hens, which we’ve arranged to collect mid-March. Then we’ll add in a couple of Light Sussex from our contact, once they’re ready in April/May. So we have rather less time to get everything ready than expected – and it won’t break the bank to get up and running again (for probable bird prices, see this post). Not that the fox has any appreciation of the monetary value of a hen but …

We didn’t get so very much done today, but knowing when the girls are coming is a good incentive …  although we really only need to get the Hen Run sorted in the first instance. Still, once half term is over, we’ll crack on – if the weather allows, that is

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  1. We’ve had a lot of rain, too. We also have daffodils and snow drops. Aren’t they wonderful to look at this time of year? :[)
    Why do you lime the area where the chickens were?

    • It’s one way of counteracting the acidity of soil with lots of chicken poo on it – one way of cutting down on smells! I also hope it helps kill off some of the bugs. We won’t have hens on the ground for another month and it’s bound to rain in that time, so it won’t harm our hens.

      See here for more x

      • Oh. Okay. Thank you for the link, too. We tore down the old chicken coop back in ’94, when we were here for a year.
        This year we finished pulling out all the trash and cutting down all the small trees and brush.
        We had to lime one of the gardens for apple trees and have some lime left. I think I’ll spread it over the old coop area before we build the new one there.
        Thanks for the information!

  2. I’m so sorry that you’ve suffered such a huge shock and the loss of your lovely girls. You are working so hard to create a lovely (and safe) home for your new ladies and I am both watching with interest at your endeavours and wishing you well. Good luck X


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  • The Hen House Archive

    Our original hen keeping adventure came to an end in January 2013, when a fox took our entire brood of hens. But don’t let that put you off … you can find the story at The Hen House Archive where there are still lots of stories, photos, and information about keeping hens I hope you'll find useful.

    March 2017 ... All change in the hen garden as the fruit cage run is retired in favour of an electric fence, the veg beds are relocated to put the hens on fresh ground, and the new girls arrive, Dorcas, Delilah and Deanna.

    January 2017 ... Bird flu outbreak and all domestic foul are quarantined until the end of February.

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