If you wandered over to Mucky Boots today you might be excused for thinking there is some kind of archaeological dig going on, or maybe a hunt for buried treasure. Because everywhere you look there are excavated hollows, with all the vegetation in a two foot radius coated in dry dirt. But no, it's just dust bath season.
Chickens like nothing better than scratching out a chicken-body-sized hollow in the ground and then wallowing and flapping in the dry dirt. They work the dust deep into their feathers, to help keep them clean, dry and in good condition, and to discourage any pests from taking up residence. The entertainment factor for human spectators is purely incidental. (Go ahead, click on that link!)
The birds at Mucky Boots, always keen to excel at their chickenly duties, take their dust baths seriously. Hector and his hens staked out the orchard as their preferred location which, happily for me, meant that the job of weeding around the trees was done for me.
In fact, the base of a tree seems to be one of the preferred sites for dust bathing - that and the sunny side of the workshop, all along the foundation.There has been so much excavation around the roots of two of the big cedar trees near the workshop that I began to wonder if the chickens could undercut the roots enough to make the trees unstable. But I suspect that's just my natural ability to find things to worry about talking...