I have spent years building my perennial gardens. Each year we enrich the soil with our own compost. The majority of my plants have come either from my grandmother, friends or neighbors.
But against the chickens, the plants really haven't had a chance. The chickens, in the gardens, take shelter (bad), hunt for insects (really bad), and take dust baths (plant-pocalypse).
I also suspect our free-range chickens attract various predators. Even the inclement weather seems not to deter some ambitious carnivores.
|Taking a Dust Bath|
So why free range chickens? First, they are healthier. Second, I think they are happier (watching them explode out of the coop every morning leaves little worry about over-anthropomorphizing). They may be smarter as well, as we have not yet lost one to a predator.
|In Our East Field Last Fall|
But third, due to their diet that includes insects (including all of our ticks), and perhaps their general well being, they produce the most intense egg yolks I have ever seen. Their flavor is unmatched and I am guessing they are more healthful as well. Even against those from local farms (such as seen here), our eggs are in a class all of their own. And if that means going without perfect flower beds, that seems like a pretty small price to pay.
|The Farmer's Market egg is on the left; one of our double-yolkers is on the right.|