Although the image we get in our heads when we think of farming involves long days and weeks spent in the fields, in reality, many small farmers have to hold off-the-farm jobs to make ends meet and continue their farming dream. Some are retired from a day job, but many of us fall into the category of "weekend warriors," pushing to get farm chores and improvements done on Saturdays and Sundays.
Although I'm very fortunate to work from home, I fall into this category. This weekend I am building a chicken tractor for my 36 laying hens, so that I can get them out of their coop, get it cleaned out and let it rest for the summer. I want to be able to move their pasture area periodically so that their manure and scratching enhances the fertility of the soil instead of making one spot into bare ground dotted with poop.
My plan is to surround the chicken tractor with electric net fencing, and to move them every week or two, at most. They'll have a space of roughly 40 feet square to roam inside the electric net, and the tractor needs nest boxes and roosts since they're laying hens. I found these plans that look really promising!
Don't know a chicken tractor from the kind you pour diesel into? I've compiled some basic info on how to raise chickens on pasture so you can get those hens on a grassfed diet. They'll thank you and you'll notice a big difference in their eggs, too (especially in the darkness of the yolks).
What are your plans this weekend? Are you planting seeds, building a coop, or putting up fencing? Come share in our Small Farm Forums.