Thursday, August 2, 2012

The aviary

We seem to have created an aviary.

We have the 4th house on the block. From the end of the street one must pass a backyard full of teenagers, a backyard full of boys under 8, and a desolate backyard of a house for sale. Granted, upon reaching our yard one is welcomed by two mature cottonwood trees, a pecan tree and close over the back fence an ancient dessert willow. This yard's primary function is to be a habitat for four free-range naked-neck chickens. Being so means bowls of fresh water, changed daily, are scattered everywhere shade is constant. It also means that shady areas are created, maintained and well supplied with food; each a mini-aviary.

For example:

Two broad leafed shrubs grow on the west side of the deck. They serve as a source of shade for the chickens, a cover for sparrows coming to visit the bird feeder or share the chicken water which is on the deck (out of reach of scratching backsplash and therefore always clean). These shrubs have housed a pair of nesting doves and their two chicks in early spring and currently house a young pair of nesting cardinals and their baby in the same nest. The chickens and sparrows borrow the dirt for baths in exchange for depositing fertilizer.

The bushes seem thankful for their additional job as a water park. We've hung a sheet between the shrubs and the deck to keep the grass-less area cool and inviting. We also spray the dirt, straw and branches down at least three times a day allowing water to pool under and on the bushes.

The chickens are living through the heat wave and so are the wild birds in this area, thanks to these two shrubs. A stopping point on ones way through the neighborhood to the giant bird feeders on the other end.

Our aviary is one of the few plants thriving in my yard right now: These bushes and the basil.

1 comment:

  1. I loved imagining the walk and your yard as you described it, and then seeing the spring photos. The little oasis you have created sounds like an ideal habitat for the local nature to survive the heat wave. What a gift exchange you have set up!