I’ve solved a long standing, very annoying problem in my landscape. I’m in an old urban neighborhood with lots of mature trees. With those trees, of course, come squirrels.
Yes, I know they’re cute and I know they’re one of God’s creatures. I wouldn’t harm one; I just want them to keep their distance from parts of my property.
They dig in plant pots looking for food, yanking out the rightful inhabitants by their roots; they overturn, steal from, and break bird feeders regularly. They chew their way into the attic and throw parties early in the morning. I’m no fan, not at all.
On the other hand, I enjoy attracting birds into my gardens. I’ve earned the designation of Certified Wildlife Habitat issued by the National Wildlife Federation by creating a wildlife-friendly environment. I supplement the food the birds find on their own with seeds in feeders, year round. Many feeders are hyped as squirrel proof; few really are. The little devils find a way, knocking them to the ground if all else fails.
Now that I have chickens, most of my squirrel problems are solved, with some side benefits to boot. In addition to the coop, I’ve given the hens grazing rights to about a quarter of my fenced in edible garden.
In utter frustration, after picking up yet another spilled feeder a month or so ago, I put a few shepherd’s hooks in the chicken’s area and hung the bird feeders there to see what would happen.
Well, that has turned out to be the magic bullet! The birds are comfortable with the chickens and their feeders stay more reliably filled. The squirrels stay away because of the chickens. The chickens love to snack on the seeds/shells that fall on the ground and because they do, I get none of the weedy sprouting that normally takes place under the feeders.
With no waste, I save a lot on bird seed, a little on chicken feed, and most of what the hens eat, of course, ends up nourishing next year’s garden by way of the compost I make with their manure.
That’s what’s called stacking functions, which simply means using one thing to serve more than one purpose. I couldn’t be happier.
A win for everybody. Well, almost everybody……