Chicken tractors and hammocks

More chicken know-how and kicking back tropical-style

Chicken coops, Part 3
You may be familiar with Nancy Schleiger (pictured) from her Native Springs Nursery booth at the downtown Chico Certified Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. Besides selling California native plants, Schleiger also raises 40 chickens on her Durham property (she delivers fresh eggs weekly to the lucky customers on her small egg route).

I talked to Schleiger recently for some sage chicken advice.

“Chickens need management,” Schleiger said. “You can’t just give them the run of your garden.”

Schleiger agreed that chickens “are real useful in the garden—they poop, they eat bugs. But if you have little plants, they’ll eat them.”

She uses a coop with two doors, one that opens into her veggie garden and one that opens onto the chickens’ yard. Each year she alternates the location of the garden and the chicken yard so that the chickens can fertilize and clean up the previous year’s garden, while the current garden can remain untrampled.

Schleiger also suggested the use of a “chicken tractor”—a bottomless, movable coop, sometimes on wheels. (See chicken-tractor photo gallery.)

“You can move it along an area of weeds or between garden rows, and they can eat the weeds between the rows,” Schleiger said. “Next year, you can plant the rows where the chickens were.”

Hangin’ out
I can’t believe I missed National Hammock Day! It was July 22. But it’s not too late to discuss the joys of lying in a hammock, suspended between two leafy trees, on a hot Chico summer day. Doesn’t cost a dime, except for what you spend on the hammock (and maybe a good book and a drink to go along with it).

By some accounts, the hammock—a symbol of tropical relaxation all over the world—began as a part of Central American Mayan culture of a thousand years ago, and was woven from the bark of the hamak tree. Others say it originated much earlier, in 450 B.C. Greece. Hammocks have long been used on ships as space-saving sailors’ beds, and were even used in crowded 19th-century English prisons.

Did you know that in addition to the normal cooling-off that goes along with resting in the shade, relaxing in a hammock can help accelerate the body’s cooling process? According to local women’s-health nurse practitioner Chris Nelson, because a hammock offers the opportunity to raise one’s feet above heart level, it helps to cool the body faster.

“It helps to return blood to the central circulation to elevate the feet,” she said. In other words, raising the feet increases circulation, thus more rapidly cooling the body.

In Chico, downtown outdoors-outfitter Mountain Sports (176 E. Third St., 345-5011) offers some nice hammock options—one-person “SingleNest” ($55) and two-person “DoubleNest” ($65) nylon hammocks in various two-color combinations by North Carolina-based Eagles Nest Outfitters Inc., which fold up into a small, attached bag, and the Brazilian-style, heavy-cotton Amazonas hammocks ($69.95) from Byer of Maine.

“Hammocks are a great way to sit back, have your favorite adult beverage and relax,” offered Mountain Sports owner Bruce Hart (pictured, with an ENO hammock). “A mojito and a hammock in the shade of the day—oh, boy!”