It was always our intention to divide up the hen run, that’s why we built such a huge one to start with, and why we sited the hen house in the middle. Just, we never got around to it – it didn’t seem necessary, the grass kept good, apart from where the hens had made dust baths, and in fact we had to go in and scythe (after they had gone to bed – hens are way to inquisitive not to put their necks in line), and made hay.
Not this year though – partly perhaps due to increased numbers, but mostly due to the terrible weather we have had throughout winter. It rained solidly through November, hard hard frosts in December then several bouts of snow at the beginning of the year, followed by lots of rain.
It was like a music festival campsite in there – we put planks down for us to walk on, as it was boot suckingly bad – and I berated himself for only putting planks at the beginning and end of the path.. turned out I had maligned him.. he had put them down.. and they sank!
Now it has been dry for over a week. Which is great in so many ways, but actually the ground in the hen run is suffering even more, as the squelchy mud has now baked hard, and the grass struggles to get through.. only to be pounced on by hens hungry for greens. On top of that, as far as they are concerned, everywhere is now ideal to dust bathing.
The far half of the run was still green, and we decided to take steps to save it. a little fencing behind the hen house, and a large gate, designed to latch either side of the pop hole, so we can let them out either side, or put the gate back to the fence and have it as one again. For now they are in the worst half. The other half is starting to grow again.
They seem completely unbothered by this move, they still have loads of space, way more than the official definition of free range, they have their dust baths, the ark to shelter under, and the brooder coup which they love to perch on and preen. In fact, I don’t think they have noticed..
We can save half of the run, until conditions improve, and reseed the rest later.