One of the great challenges I regularly encounter is maintaining a functional yet aesthetic homestead.  Those of you that have barnyard animals or have at least visited a farm, know that along with the animals comes a lot of mess and smell.  Luckily, our homestead is always breezy so the smell is not a huge problem for us.  The mess is however.  The problem with most aesthetic set-ups with homesteading is the lack of functionality.  I work hard at balancing my ER nurse attitude of grab what you can and get it done, with the homesteader mindset of taking a few minutes to think about the best long term plan.

Following the absolute destruction of the goats, we rehomed them several months ago after they killed every speck of green and over 10 trees, the pen was left a muddy brown wasteland.  Since we have quite a few chickens now residing in this pen, as well as the pigs, I knew I had to come up with a plan to introduce some foliage back into area.  The challenge is how destructive chickens and pigs can be as well.  Pigs are the world’s best roto-tillers.  Chickens also do their part of scratching and eating most anything green they see.  With a little bit of research under my belt, I made a trip to the garden center today.  I had to find plants that were hardy, able to grow in shade and not poisonous so they could be nibbled on.  I browsed the aisles and came up with a few options for now.  I chose Dichondra, Asparagus Fern, Sunsatia and Vino Coleus.  I also placed a delicious smelling Tea Tree in one corner of the pen-out of the reach of everybody.  It sure didn’t take long for the girls to sink their beaks into the juicy greenery.


With outside the box thinking, I was able to add a little bit of color to the area.  We will see how it stands up to the girls and the pigs.  It is still a work in progress!



What continues to entertain me is the big personalities my girls have.  They are all very unique.  One lady in particular is such an off-beat hen, she is hard to not to notice.  She is well camouflaged in coloring and makes the oddest dove sounding calls.  She has not laid (any eggs) since her arrival to the homestead, but frequently sits in the nesting boxes for a spell.  She will nestle down into the ground and then turn her head all the way around to watch you-it’s a bit creepy.  She also seems to make her way into the majority of my pictures before they are cropped!


“Who are you calling weird!?”

Speaking of off-beat hen behavior, we have four new girls on the homestead.


These ladies are Golden Comets.  I happened to catch two of the sisters in a rather compromising pose:


Got to love the drama of the hen house!

The mealworms are doing well, no signs of beetles yet.  They sure are eating plenty!


Now that the homestead is settled for now, I am off to prepare for a night of ER nursing.  Until next time…


10 thoughts on “Chickenscaping

  1. We’ve had the same problem with the hens turning their run into a dust bowl/mud slough. Their current pen is prolific at growing chickweed which by late summer starts to die off from the head and lack of rain. By fall it grows back in leaps and bounds and lasts till next summer. What we have decided to do is to have two runs. One for summer and one for winter. The summer run is mostly under the trees and we had to clear the kudzu out of the place. It will grow back and they love to eat that also. So in the summer they can try to kill all the kudzu and in the winter the chickweed. The kudzu grows so quickly I might have to check daily to ensure none of them have been ensnared by it.
    I love how you put boards in the air for them to sit on during the day. Have to incorporate some of that into our runs.

  2. We have one hen house and run chicken tractor. The chicken tractor is new and currently houses the broilers we bought to raise for meat. I’m hoping after that process that the layers will be able to live the summer in the chicken tractor acting like fertilizing lawnmowers and then we’ll move them back for the winter when they won’t be able to stay in the tractor. This will give us time to reseed the chicken run before winter sets in. It’s always nice to know that what is going on at your place is happening at others as well!

  3. I am enjoying your blog so much and it looks like you really enjoy the farm. Animals seem to give a person peace and relaxation and of course a challenge from time to time, they keep life interesting

  4. I have 30 hens and have found no to keep anything green in the pen. i pull weeds from the garden, flower bed, etc and feed them to the chickens, who love all of them. Also give them lawn cuttings and ground leaves in the fall. They are mulch factories.

  5. I happened to learn about your blog from the monthly electric company newsletter and was intrigued. Being an old farm gal myself long removed to the city, I want to follow how you are doing. If you really want some intrigue, add a turkey to your mix. I am now 66 years old and those fowls will still make me run. My Granddad used to stand and just laugh and laugh at my antics to avoid them; they literally terrified me although they never harmed me. I so enjoyed gathering the still warm eggs and have been trying to interest my city born husband into starting a small chicken yard, but he still says no. Let him continue to eat those anemic store bought eggs I say.

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