When we moved our chickens out of the garden last weekend, we put them in another part of our yard where there’s plenty of room for them to roam. Yes, after a two-week orientation period in the coop, the girls were ready to go free-range!
Ah, the open range! Almost makes me want to eat grass.
Unfortunately, chickens are tasty meals not only for people but for dogs. Raccoons and hawks will bother them too, and snakes will go after the eggs. That’s why we built our coop like a fortress—it’s hard even for us to get into, and we have thumbs. Now that we’re letting the hens roam outside, we still want to keep them safe, or safe-ish. (Not much we can do about the hawks.)
Enter the electric fence. I am somewhat surprised to find myself the owner of an electric fence, but there it is. The next question, of course, is how the fence is powered. Answer: by a flaming ball of gas, yo.
Note: Large rock not part of solar panel setup.
Our farmer friend asked us skeptically, "Kind of a big investment for three chickens, isn’t it?" Well, yes. It would have been cheaper just to run the fence off a battery that we’d charge from an outlet at the house—or even more simply, to run it from an extension cord—but we spent the extra dough for a little solar panel. I liked the idea that we’d keep our chickens off-grid. And I thought this might be a good way to get acquainted with solar power, against the future possibility that we’ll use it for larger applications like, say, heating water for our showers.
As for our now-officially-pastured poultry, they are totally ecstatic with all the space, teeming with bugs and clover. We expect to taste the difference in the eggs, too.
So far, so good! Farmers, solar panelists, chime in with your tips.