Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicken Proof Raised Beds

All-righty...I know you've all been on the edge of your proverbial seats waiting to see the new situation here.

Lemme start by saying, and I think I've already told you this, I really, really, really, really wanna get waaaay more into the whole urban farm thing.

The challenge with this is ... well, it's a lot of hard work.

Like giant balls of hard work.

I don't really like hard work, to be honest.

I guess that's not totally true.

I like some hard work, but I don't want it to last long.

The truth is that I am downright scared to rip out all my ornamental plants and put in food production because what if I get sick of doing it?

What if these horrific Texas summers just kick my ass and I cave in and give up?

I mean, no harm / no foul, BUT - BIG BUT (like mine) - I just cannot see then going back to putting the ornamental plants back in.

I have spent 4.5 years and countless dollars getting my yard done.

Now, to rip it out?


One thing that makes my plan a tad easier is that we have  such shit soil here,  most of us city gardeners just used raised beds.  

This really is so much easier than straight ground planting, BUT (another one) it can cost money, and one of the big reasons to grow more food  is to save money.


It's mostly just to grow my own because I love to grow things and eat healthfully, but it's also to help my son learn where real food comes from and how to do it.

Even the amazing farmers' markets here in Austin can't compare to actually growing our own because Finn can't SEE them growing the food.  I want him to know the whole process.  The planning, the soil, the seeds, the successes and failures.

I'm not really a believer in the whole zombie Apocalypse thing (although I do find it HILARE), but I DO feel that there may very well come a time on this Earth when we might all be forced to know how to grow food.  

The whole oil thing, you know.

Fuck that oil thing.  

(Except when I wanna take a big vacation across the west in a giant truck with a pop-up, that is.)


OMG, I'm such a hypocrite.

OK, anyway, I really, really, really want to grow a LOT more food and get bees.  (Bees are for sure happening...just getting all my ducks in a row.  My bees in a row, I guess. Too hot for bees to start here now.)

I already do chickens.

I spent my whole vacation reading urban farming books and I'll share that list with you soon.  I really wanted to try and get my Amazon book link thingee working again before I recommend a lot of books to you, but, eh, I'm lazy.

Wow, that was a tome.

Maybe I should shut my trap and show you the beds.

This is what my raised beds look like now:

Super fugly, right?

The whole reason that I have to protect the beds is because my chickens are free-range in my yard 24/7.

Lemme tell ya...chickens can EFF UP YOUR YARD, man.

It's not so much that they eat the plants (although they do do that), but it's mostly because they scratch at the base of every single plant in the entire yard.  Guess that's where the bugs hang.

This is not a big deal around established plants, but for seedlings or vegetables this is hell.

So, I have to protect all the beds from the fowl.

So, (why do I say SO so much?) the system I have now is to wrap some shitty, scavenged pieces of chicken wire  around some wooden posts and staple all that crap together.

It works, but omg soooo ugly AND then it's really hard to get at the food.  I have to leeeean over the top so that the wire then catches and tears my clothes or rips my skin, or I have to unroll one end so I can get in there, and that really suuuuucks because chicken wire is unwieldy and irritating, blah, blah, blah.

I needed another way.  

Fired up the Oracle and found this!:

See that second photograph?


Now, Mr. Douglas is an obvious badass with all his hard work over there, and I certainly do thank him for sharing his great idea of removable bed covers to me.

The only thing is that I did not want to move mine around because, well, I don't know why, but I just kinda didn't, so Jackdaddy came up with the brilliant idea to have the covers FLIP off.

Like this ...


So it lays flat on the beds, but then when I need to get in there I just flip it over.


I got kinda fancy though.

Fancy, or maybe extremely anal because I just cannot live with giant white pipes all over my yard.

Spray paint.



Bitch of a job though.

I hate spray paint.  I feel like I'm killing every pollinator in my yard with that crap.

But, oh well, I have the right to a little pretty, don't I?  I just hold a piece of cardboard up the whole time and most of the paint goes on the pipes and then on to the cardboard.

I do what I can, y'all. 

No netting up yet cuz that part is hard and I need Jackdaddy to help me.

He already helped me with the thinking and the cutting so I have to give him a few days before hounding him for more help.

I am definitely using some cheap deer netting instead of metal chicken wire like Mr. Douglas as that shit is just a pain in the arse.

My chickens get the idea with just the netting, so I don't need to go to all that trouble or cost.  Although, I do think it would look nicer and more official, but wtf, right?

So, yea, the world's longest story about how to chicken proof your raised beds.

But, I'm really thrilled to finally have a semi-attractive solution to an age-old problem.

Now if I could just tackle that oil issue.

Hooo hawwwww.


  1. This is an awesome thing I'm going to try when I have a garden again. Also, using a mesh cover would block borers during squash making times and probably thwart other problem critters as well...

    1. Ellen,

      Oh my gosh, I never thought about borer control. Wouldn't that be awesome? Wish I could blight proof them. Ha.

  2. We remain forever hopeful and no matter what there are great lessons to be learned and perhaps something to eat.
    ms mdd

  3. Um.

    That's pure fucking genius. The structure, the flipping, the whole thing. LOVE IT.

    I am so going to use this idea in the future when I decided to incorporate all beds in with animals. I really want to build beds that are as big as my rabbit a-frame so I can just rest the whole shebang right on top during fallow months and have the rabbits distribute their joy filled poop directly on my soil.

    In fact, you don't even need to make the frames too tall, come to think of it - about 2 feet over a raised bed would do the trick for most chickens with wings brain is already working....

    1. RIGHT??? Isn't is just the shitbomb? My ladies wings aren't even clipped, but they seem to "get it" when they try to peck in and there's a screen. Course, now that I said that.

      But, yea, I just think it's the best.

      I grew up in an A-frame house. I highly recommend them. heeeee.

  4. MS. MUDD - your comments are not showing up for some reason!!!

    I see them in my email inbox, but they are not showing up here, for some reason?


  5. I love it.

    I'm afraid of doing more garden because I can hardly keep up with the garden I have. Sweet, I'm so envious of your energy. Please send some north to me!

    Nonetheless, you inspire me. Gonna have to save one of those pictures for the day when I get raised beds and chickens. Someday. Oh, yes. Someday.

    1. Well, mama, you have a LITTLE one over there. All your energy goes straight into that sweet kid. Plus, it's gonna take me some YEARS to get there. It will. I'll be really old by then. har har

  6. As someone who grows just about 70% of my food for the year in my 1/4 acre yard, I have one teeny bit of advice when it comes to the whole urban homesteading thing: Embrace Your Weeds. Do not fret and feel like you have to pull up every last dang weed that rears its butt ugly head in your cabbage patch. Weeds actually can help your garden, as in being a little home for beneficial insects to eat those nasties that want to eat your stuff, and shading tender plants that will get all fried up in hot weather. Once you stop worrying about the weeding and prettifying and all that crap, it is soooo much easier to get all zen-like about gathering the copious amounts of crops your teeny yard can produce. Your garden will still look awesome, even with some weeds fashionably sprinkled here and there. OH, and don't try to do everything all at once. A good garden takes YEARS to get going. So why should your "homestead" be fantastically amazing all in one go? It's taken me 6 years to get to this point, a ton of work but so worth it. Aside from the benefits of being outside and having chickens who love me following me around like I am a female incarnation of Jesus, there's the not insignificant fringe benefit of losing 38 pounds in a year simply from not eating processed crap. (The heavy lifting grunt work may have contributed somewhat, but I think its mostly from not eating crap in a box.) Have fun with your homesteading!!

    Cris, the Chicken Lady who loves your blog

    1. YOU DO!?!!? Oh're my inspiration!!! And you are SO right ... I'm gonna go slow. It took me 6 years to get here and I'm sure it will take that much more to get where you are.

      Oh honey, if you could see my yard up close, you know would know I don't worry about weeds. We raised bed garden here in my hood because our soil is clay. Not LIKE clay, but clay. Like a terra cotta pot. Awful.

      You lost 38 lbs???!?! You sent it to me, dammit. That's where it went - to my arse.

      Going to see your blog now. LOVE the name!

  7. Kinda loving living vicariously. Share some of those apocalypse fears, but am far behind in doing anything about them. You go first, and maybe I can follow.

    1. When the zombie apocalypse comes, you can come here. We'll eat chocolate and blueberries! Wait, you probably have a basement, don't you? Im coming there.

  8. We are SO cut from the same cloth. I'm in the process of putting in some raised beds too! Question - are you installing drip irrigation or soaker hoses or anything, and if so, what? I'm trying to decide what to do.


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