water wisdom

El Niño: Protect garden pets

bunnies 300wAt my house, we have city chickens. At the Community Garden at Holy Nativity, we have bunnies. With a Godzilla El Niño coming, all of these delightful little critters need rain protection.I haven’t observed the bunnies during a cloudburst, but my chickens are DUMB. They will run around in the rain and get totally soaked. If we get (as forecasters are saying) one storm after another from January through March, these poor critters will be miserable and living in a swamp.Not pleasant.  And not healthy.

Although their sleeping quarters are dry, we cannot expect them to stay inside for three months straight.

At my home, our chicken cage has a wire roof. We have been acquiring used chair mats on Freecycle, and installing those in overlapping fashion on top of the wire to create a solid roof. The chair mats are stronger and more durable than a tarp. The chair mats can be wired into place, and won’t tear or shred if we get winds with all that rain.

We also have corrected the grading around the chicken area. And we installed a tiny “rain gutter” for them, so that flood waters are directed away from their enclosure.

We will also be installing an extra-super-thick layer of mulch, so that the surface the chickens are running on is lifted much higher, above the ground level.

At the Community Garden, the bunny enclosure has a tree in the middle, and it has no roof. It will be very difficult to create a dry space for the bunnies. However now is the time to be addressing problems like these, rather than waiting until it is actually raining.

One friend of mine has city chickens and no possible way to provide them protection in her enclosure. After seeing her setup, it seems like her best option is to find another home for these chickens for this winter, and bring in new chickens in the spring. It’s a tough decision for her, but in the face of a Godzilla El Niño, it is likely the best way to give these little critters proper care.