16 July 2012

In the grounds of Chookingham Palace

I wrote recently about having ten chooks free range around the backyard and the problems that was causing us. Mainly it was that they like sitting near the back gate, basking in the sun and clucking to each other in low contended tones, while their droppings were smelly and they had burnt off all the grass there. Making the walk out to their coop was unpleasant and slippery in the wet weather and a bare dry mess when the sun was shining.

One of the pleasures of being grandparents is that occasionally we have our little people here and we like to have them outside in the fresh air and sunshine - but it needs to be safe, healthy and clean.  Over a few morning teas, sitting on the back verandah with the winter sun warming us, Hanno and I devised something new for our feathered friends. We get the backyard and they get a much larger run. Hopefully, it's a win-win situation.

We decided to extend the grounds of chookingham palace so the girls can still wander around, still eat grass, still have both sun and shade, but they'd be confined to their own area.

 The beginning.

Late afternoon, mid-winter, the worker and the chooks.

 Construction stopped numerous times because of the rain.

The last two photos above were taken yesterday afternoon. The chooks are contained now and soon it will be finished.

Hanno used as many of the materials that we had here as he could but in the end he had to buy some fence posts and new wire. The old posts and wire were used to patch up the fence along the new section and also along the back on the creekside - which is potentially where foxes and wild cats come from. It needs to be higher.

There are three trees in the palace grounds - a native fig, a pecan and a Eureka lemon and they all fruit in their own season. I'm sure all of them will do well with the extra nitrogen the droppings will provide. We'll grow passionfruit along the wire fence as a permanent crop in summer then cut them back and grow sweet peas (my favourite) for a couple of months in Spring. It looks beautiful already - incorporating the recycled and the new - a celebration of production, self reliance and ordinary backyard life.

Although it's not quite finished yet, the bulk of the work is complete. There is some wire to go along the back fence to make it higher and we need to move in a large stone drinking pond. We have a couple of saplings to cut down to provide some climbing frames and day perches for them - chooks LOVE to climb - and Hanno will put up a small sheltered area where they can sit when it's raining. Even though they can easily go into the coop to stay dry, they never do. Chooks are crazy sometimes, but I bet you all know that.

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