Trying to dissuade my guilt for not letting my chickens out as much as they would like, I wanted to add a chicken run to my coop. So in true Ivie fashion, I put the cart before the horse and cut a hole into my coop, and built a run out of cattle panels and t-posts.
The ultimate goal was to create a living fence with willows woven through the cattle panels, but I didn’t have the time immediately so I put orange construction mesh around until I did. For the next two months, I chased three of my chickens (leghorns of course!) out of my uncovered garden. I replanted several times as they decimated my seedlings!
Finally, we took the whole family on a willow cutting adventure and I was ready to create my fence. Two months of thinking about the effort it would take to contain and maintain a living willow fence, changed my mind about the living part. Instead I wove the willows sideways only, not placing any of the ends into the dirt. Willows have a natural rooting hormone (indolebutyric acid IBA). You can cut them down and place them in damp dirt, and they will sprout new roots and start to grow. There is even a method of extracting this rooting hormone for use on other plants. There are many fun pictures of living fences people have taken the time to cultivate. I love the look, but, having many children, endless projects, and little time, I cheated.
I started with the cattle panels, and wove willow branches through the wire to hide it. I was quite pleased with the results, and it only took an afternoon. Willows are quite easy to work with, and even though mine sat for a month before I took time to weave them, they still worked fine.
I was however, furious the next morning at 8:00 to find that two chickens had made their way out! How had they done that? I thought I had made it tall enough, but I watched in disbelief as one flew right over the fence!
So...until I find something that looks a little more “earthy” to match the look of the willow, I took chicken wire and wired it on top. It isn’t my favorite solution, but the chickens have been successfully contained for nearly a week!