When is a free-range chicken a bad, naughty chicken?
Come closer, dear students, and the Damsel will tell you.
The Damsel lets her chickens run loose in her large fenced yard, eating mosquitoes and possibly earwigs. For this hope alone, it’s worth the risk they pose to the garden plants. They do like to peck and tear at the tender leaves. But although most of the plants have managed to grow faster than the chickens can peck them down, there is one sad row in the Damsel’s garden.
Behold the chicken devastation.
This was once a happy little row of beets. The Damsel had hoped for a few meals of beet greens as the plants were thinned, and then the rest would be ultimately pickled as shown in this post: Pickled Beets. But the greens have been pretty thoroughly whittled…maybe they’ll recover a bit, but hopes of beet greens are sinking low. Who knows if there is enough left of the tops to support growth of the beetroots?
Yes, the plants could have been covered with netting and thus saved from being pecked to within an inch of their little lives. But with the other, earlier-planted veggies, the chickens pecked at them rather half-heartedly, lulling us to believe they weren’t going to do any serious damage. Then the beets were planted. Before we knew it, the Beetgreen Devouring Festival had begun and it was all everlastingly too late.
Thank goodness the chickens didn’t kill the tomato plants. If that had happened, the Damsel just isn’t sure what measures she’d be required to take. She hopes she will never be asked to choose between tomatoes and eggs. Some choices are just too awful to contemplate.