Monday, March 12, 2012

The Chicken Wars

     The cat and I sit on the patio conspiring.  Our enemy is gathering the troops, regrouping after our most recent battle, in which Tip and I ran around the house ten times while the chickens lapped us twice as they avoided capture.  The Chicken Chasing Cat is all for another frontal assault.  I’m considering enlisting the aid of the Chicken Eating Dog, but whenever he wins a battle, I lose another layer.  We must find a way to keep the chickens out of my yard without affecting egg production.
     Why did I want this white board fence?  When Joe and I first married and I was fresh from the suburbs, I insisted on a white board fence to surround our grassy half acre.  Board fences look so pretty from the road, I argued.  Normally, my pragmatic husband prevailed, but I won this round.  Not only did I win a white board fence, I also won a quarter acre more of grass to mow.  It seemed a sweet victory at the time. 
     White board fences are high maintenance.  They must be painted and repaired yearly.  They also have a huge flaw that never occurred to me when I was arguing against the more mundane wire fence.  White board fences do not keep out livestock very well.  Chickens, beagles and lambs can all get between the boards.  I thought I would have a white board fence lined with flowers.  What I have is a white board fence lined with ragged stubble, courtesy of the lambs.  I thought I would have a pristine green lawn, suitable for croquet. What I have is a green lawn, laced with dog poo land mines.  I thought I would have flower beds blanketed with mulch.  What I have is bare flower beds and mulch scattered across the entire half acre courtesy of the scratching hens.  In all fairness, I didn’t have the problem with the hens until I moved Henrietta up from the farm in McDowell.  If you recall, she was the chicken who spent most of her days exploring town.  Now she spends her days teaching the other chickens to sneak into my yard. 
     So, I decided to be proactive.  I bought forty-five dollars worth of chicken wire and stapled it to the bottom half of the fence where I thought the hens were sneaking through, but Henrietta keeps leading the troops along the barrier until they reach unprotected territory .  I’ve run out of chicken wire and I refuse to spend any more money, so I’m recycling some unused items.   The chickens snuck under the gate: I wired up a leftover piece of lattice work.  They followed the chicken wire to where it ran out behind the shed:  I draped an old volleyball net over that section of fence.  They tiptoed past the grill: I stapled up a recycled badminton net.  They power walked to the pasture:  I cut up a bird net and stapled it to the bottom boards.  I’ve covered holes with abandoned tomato cages, parts of an old tricycle, black plastic drain pipes and a piece of shower curtain I was using as a drop cloth. I realized that I was probably obsessing when I covered the last hole with a recycled pot rack.  But no matter, I won the war. 
     I finally succeeded in fencing out the chickens. Unfortunately, I can’t see my fence anymore.

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