Keeping chickens out of flower beds
We've been wanting chickens for a long time, and today was a GOOD DAY--we were gifted with a chicken house for 8 hens! The kids are so very excited.
So now I'm doing the nitty gritty research. We desperately want our chicken to range free because we have a terrible tick problem. We will be trying some guinea fowl to eat the deer ticks. This morning there was a tick on the hallway wall. This wall is INSIDE the house. We have so many ticks they're just waiting on the walls to jump on the next body that swings by. We find deer ticks all summer, as well as tons of dog ticks. I checked my winter sowing jugs last week and came in with a tick on my arm.
I really need these chickens/guinea fowl to range free. I have just been reading that they can destroy your flower beds. My beds are very new. (Well, actually they're old, but they're empty since they were 85% weeds when we moved in here.) I am planting all my winter-sow seedlings now. I'm very worried that my new flower beds will be a memory after the chickens arrive.
I have read about solutions like electric fences. Don't want to do that. So far the most promising solution is to put sharp bamboo kabob sticks in the ground around the plantings to make it an uncomfortable place for the chickens. I'd have to keep the kids and the dogs out of the beds this year, too. The beds will look like they're undergoing acupuncture as I'll need sticks just about everywhere.
Has anybody tried this? Can you give me suggestions for keeping chickens out of the garden beds?
Also, do chickens peck once plants are established, or only when plants are new and there is a lot of dirt around?
Thank you to all the chicken mamas who can help me!