The chickens are ecstatic. We finally got their home in the greenhouse finished, and not only do they have a coop area with three big nesting boxes, unlimited access (i.e. not dependent on me remembering) to feed and water, but also a blue portal to the “great outdoors” which is a deep-mulch run full of bugs and dirt and other fun stuff. They can stretch their wings and follow each other around, and it is super easy for me to toss them garden greens (their favorites are dandelion and, of course, chick-weed!) and bugs.
Their run (or straw-yard as the Aussies call it, and I think is a much more suitable name) is on a slight incline, and as they scratch and peck through the leaves/straw that I put down, they kick it downhill, making it easy for me to scoop up the rich composted and thoroughly mixed material at the bottom and apply it to my beds. As long as there is enough carbon-rich material mixed in with the chicken poo, it won’t burn my crops, and it will be a great, fertilizer-rich mulch. In fact, I might be done with the compost pile. Why spend all that time and energy turning it (and letting the voles eat it) when the chicks can do the same work for free? And they love it! These girls have never been so happy!