The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Chicken pasture contest

Dark Cornish chickSo you lost your bet on the Kentucky Derby?  Don't despair --- we're holding a betting contest you're much more likely to win!  And this one is chicken related --- aren't chickens better than horses?

If you're interested, you can read about our plans for creating several rotational pastures for our broilers, complete with food-bearing perennials.  We'll be rotating our chickens through future pastures every couple of weeks so that they don't demolish the vegetation, but we want them to scratch this first pasture up pretty good so that we can sow it with grains for their winter diet.  When will the ground become bare enough to plant in?

Chickens on pasture

Post your guestimate date in the comments, and whoever is closest will win bee balm and Egyptian onions.  Both plants are hardy perennials that need next to no care and either attract bees and hummingbirds (the bee balm) or feed you for ten months out of the year (the Egyptian onion.)

Chicken pastureFor the scientific minded among you, here's some more data to help you choose the very best date.  Our chicken pasture is about 800 square feet and holds 25 birds who will be six weeks old on Monday, May 3.  They've been eating at the pasture since April 23, and have already started to scratch their most traveled spots bare.  On the other hand, they have been concentrating their attention on less than half of the area so far and haven't really found the far corner yet.  I've been adding wheelbarrow loads of weeds every few days, and am feeding them about a gallon of food a day.  (They're hungry little birds!)  All of the photos in this entry were taken Friday and are relatively representative of the pasture at this moment.  It's built around a big wild cherry that is starting to leaf out, so the vegetation is weeds that do well in partial shade, not grass.

The fine print: The ground will be considered bare enough when I randomly decide it's bare enough.  Only one guess per person, please!

Permaculture chicken operations go hand in hand with our homemade chicken waterer --- it never spills or fills with poop, so your chickens are happier and healthier.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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My wager is on May 15th.
Comment by Tracy Sun May 2 09:35:54 2010
Because of the exponential effect, my calculations say May11
Comment by zimmy Sun May 2 14:07:18 2010
do we give our entry here in comments or is there a way to contact discreetly?
Comment by brett Sun May 2 17:42:28 2010

Just leave your entry here --- that way no one else will try to choose your day. :-) Don't leave contact info, though --- I'll post the winner and will have him or her email me.

Looks like we'd better start working on the next paddock's fence given Tracy and Zimmy's bets!

Comment by anna Sun May 2 17:58:03 2010
I'm gonna guess May 22....for no other reason but the fact that my favorite number is 22.
Comment by Fostermamas Sun May 2 19:38:39 2010
I'm thinking May 30, given that the weeds are also growing continually. And to give you time to build the next fence.
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Sun May 2 19:53:49 2010
Keep those guesses coming! I especially like Darren's guess (and reasoning). We could use a few spare weeks before the chickens need to move on!
Comment by anna Sun May 2 21:55:05 2010
I'll guess June 3
Comment by brett Mon May 3 11:55:11 2010
i'll take june 9th. my 5yr wedding anniversary. :)
Comment by kevin Mon May 3 15:50:26 2010

I'm going to guess June 15th. Just because it was my first instict.

My husband doesn't have a blog, or online account, but he was reading this post with me, and wants in, lol. Anyway, using a complicated mathematical transferance system involving our seven hens and their tractor coop, his guess is May 31st. He's Ben James, btw, if by some chance he's right and you have to announce it. Oh, and if you would rather we don't have two guesses in one comment, or two guesses for one couple, just go with his. I'd be proud and excited if he won and I could tell him.

Fun game!

Comment by Bethany James Mon May 3 21:47:46 2010
I love Ben's mathematical transference system! :-) I was trying to do something like that to guess how many adult chickens they were currently equivalent to and go from there, but it got complicated. Of course you can both enter!
Comment by anna Tue May 4 06:54:19 2010
I'm going with May 26, just because that's the first date I saw when I glanced at the calendar - about as unscientific as one can get!
Comment by Ikwig Tue May 4 08:39:29 2010

THE 8 THE DAY BE FORE MOTHERS DAY....................

roseanell mom

Comment by roseanell Wed May 5 16:55:05 2010
I'm going with June 7th.
Comment by Melissa Thu May 6 18:43:49 2010
Gonna have to go with May 28! No science behind it for me, just a random number!
Comment by Stacy Sat May 8 09:38:39 2010

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