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Newly tilled plot, Winter chicken plan?

 
Leela Olson
Posts: 17
Location: Deering, NH
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I could use some advice on what to do with a newly tilled plot (former garden area right in back of my home) It was very compacted. I don't want to leave the soil bare!

65' X 65' area. Sandy/loam soil, some is in pretty decent shape from this being a garden area previously.

I currently have 58 or so chickens, not all in one flock, but about 4 separate groups. I have coops for them to reside for winter, but want to put them to work.

The original plan was to build my raised beds this fall so they will be ready for early spring planting, but now I am rethinking (soil fertility, amendments, $ etc)

I would like to come up with a plan to possibly cover crop the area I'm in Zone 5a, New Hampshire US.

Would love some advice on setting up a winter housing option OVER the area for the chickens, perhaps some hoop houses with coops inside.
I have 4 horses, and access to compost, in various states of decay. I've used most of my finished compost for the year already.

Here are some of my ideas;

1.) Cover crop area (not sure with what crops?)
2.) Place 2-4 hoop houses with coops inside over cover crops, possibly on skids so I can move if not frozen to the ground. Pallet compost bins in each hoop.
3.) Build some raised beds (wooden sides or just earth mounded) Sheet mulch style so they will be ready for spring. Don't put chickens on this area. But put them in hoops on ground I plan to convert to raised beds later.
4.) Spread compost over entire area, mulch heavily and place hoops over area, letting them compost and work area until spring.

I would love more ideas and input!

Thanks very much,

Leela
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1521
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Leela,

I just seeded oats beans and sunflowers today, they're destined to be goat fodder, and cover crop soil enrichment later this fall, weed prevention now. I don't know a lot about NH growing conditions, but I think there are a lot of plants that germinate and grow as the fall comes on, and chickens would love to eat them for you.

There are systems where people gather restaurant waste and produce trimmings to "compost". They pile it up and let the chickens scratch through it. Would this work inside the hoops this winter?

Now that I think of it, Justin Rhodes had a piece on how to cut chicken feed costs right down to nothing. He is currently working on "permaculture chickens" a movie and book that was funded through kickstarter. Here is his website. http://abundantpermaculture.com/ You could probably find lots of helpful ideas there, and possibly you would want his movie or book, which should be done before the snow flies - unless it's early this year.

Thekla
 
Ron Helwig
Posts: 107
Location: New Hampshire
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forest garden hugelkultur tiny house
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:
There are systems where people gather restaurant waste and produce trimmings to "compost". They pile it up and let the chickens scratch through it. Would this work inside the hoops this winter?


I'm near Raymond NH so the same climate. We have been doing this for a year now, getting a big bucket of veggies (sometimes with some pasta, rice, various fruit - all organic) every day. During Winter it is hard work, especially mucking out the no longer moving coop & run.

But the chickens do love it! Every day when I return from the restaurant they swarm the truck and get in the way when I bring the bucket down - it makes me feel like a chicken pied piper
 
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