However, that doesn't mean that we stop looking for ways to make it pay better. We scrounge and rearrange, we save "stuff" and collect "stuff" for future use and try to have fun doing it.
The latest "rearrangment" involves all of my chickens (there are somewhere close to 60 of them). I want them penned up, this protects them from critters, keeps them out of my gardens and keeps the chicken crap off of my porch and patio. I do not like chicken crap on my patio. I'm a barefoot kind of gal, always have been, always will be. I don't care if I walk around barefoot in the lawn, I know there is "residue" there, but choose to ignore it, besides, it beats shoes any day!
When the chickens are loose, it's obvious, and it's yucky, and yes, even for me, gross. Where in the world is the financial decision involving my chickens hidden in all of this?
When I keep my chickens penned up, I am happy, I know they're safe and I can walk barefoot all summer long. However, it costs at least 20-30 bucks a week to feed them. Hmmmm.
If I pen in the garden rather than the chickens, they will stay out of the garden, and basically feed themselves. They're already trained (as much as you can train a chicken) to go into the coop at night, so I can shut the door and keep the critters out that way. Then in the morning I can let them out, and let them eat bugs, weeds (not tomatoes, thank you very much - those are mine!) and be actually healthier in the long run. And yardbird beats penned up bird in taste any day of the week.
The pros for letting the chickens run loose seems to outweigh the cons, there is however one fairly large project first. To pen up the garden. Yes, I'm sure we have enough fencing (remember the note about scrounging....), so this weekend, set poles, string fence and build a gate and then let the chix out. It will be better for them, and I'll either learn to wear shoes, or learn to not care about what I step in. And I really, really, really don't like shoes.
But free range it shall be!