There is an amazing strawberry patch right outside our kitchen window with over ten thousand strawberry plants. It is closer to the kitchen than the barn and the chickens have discovered it. At first, it was a casual meeting and greeting, and the hens were snagging as many slugs and runaway bugs as they could. Then the luscious berries started to ripen into ruby red sugar bites! The hens could not resist. Fortunately, for us it is only three of our flock of 20 that have the wanderlust. Tim has patched holes in the fence that looked innocent, he has built up mounds of soil under the gate and then guarded the field with rapt attention. One day was given to three rescues and a grand commotion that included two farm dogs, three hens, and one farmer wrangler.
Now, here is the rest of the story: The strawberry patch belongs to our neighbor!! We barter and trade many things and it all evens out beautifully, but the ladies in the strawberry patch is definitely crossing the line! Our neighbors are gracious people and thought the hens may do more good than harm, but then we saw this:
More than six pounds of perfectly ripened and sweet perfection (despite the coolish weather) strawberries and they were just for us! So the chicken wrangler got even more serious about his berry patch watch!
There was plenty of berries to eat fresh and more for our first batch of the season strawberry jam. The kitchen began to smell delicious with all of the berry goodness cooking!
We ended up getting about three quarts of jam out of the berries, plus we had many for eating and snacking on, and even drizzling over the top of vanilla ice cream. The hens still got a little sampling of the candy red sweetness because the tops were given to them in the compost scraps.
Moral of the story: Chicken wranglers are well paid! xo