The Chickens are in the Fields!

Spring 2010 036

This last week has been an exciting week for the farm. Spring is coming, and with it new baby chicks, lamb, and soon, calves! Though new life is a marvelous and beautiful thing, people often forget about the beauty of the old life, and how it too is eagerly anticipating the coming of spring. Alongside preparing our brooders and barns for this exciting new life, we’ve been preparing our pastures for the return of their long missed grazers. We are excited to get the sheep and cattle out of the smaller winter pasture and out into the large pastures (some of which we put in place just last year!), where they can dine on a much broader selection of springtime greens, and enjoy a much larger area in which  to roam.

Speaking of roaming, this last Monday, Erick, Conner, and Evan Smith went on a night time escapade to move the chickens from their winter structure, to their summer “egg-mobiles”. During the winter, the chickens are moved into a stationary green house facility in order to keep warm (top image). This facility features an effective green-house covering in order to capture the energy of the sun to keep our chickens nice and cozy, and though they are allowed outside to range on some of the warmer days, they are confined to the warmth of the green house for most of the season; but now that spring is here, we are excited to move the chickens back to their summer housing!

Our summer “egg-mobile” (bottom image) is simply a reclaimed livestock trailer, equipped with all the creature comforts a chicken could desire. During the day, the doors are opened and the chickens are let out to free-range the pasture.  At night, the chickens all return to their roosts in the trailer and a member of the Smith family takes an evening walk to close them in, and protect them from various predators. In order to teach them to return to their trailer at night (rather than attempting to make it back to their winter home), the chickens are confined to their trailer for roughly a week. During this time, they get used to their summer quarters, and learn to view it as home. Once they accept their trailer as home, they can be moved from pasture to pasture to free-range the way God intended.