Free range chickens in a raised bed

Our chickens taking a break for a dust bath after clearing the raised bed

In the winter we open the vegetable garden to the chickens and ducks to forage. We leave all of fall’s spent plants, dried stalks and overripe fruit in place and let the poultry do their work. By the time the Mid-March rolls around and we close the garden off for Spring planting, they will have dutifully nibbled, chopped, squashed, scratched, and cleaned all 1,600 square feet of garden leaving perfectly aerated and fertilized beds behind.

I swung the gates to the garden open yesterday. I took all of 10 minutes for the flock to, well, flock to the undiscovered country. Jonesy and his hens cleared the artichoke bed right away. Now they’re taking dust baths and adding nitrogen before they move on to the old squash beds.