I’ve tried raising chickens in the past with very little success, but as we grow, we learn, and I’ve learnt a lot this year through my greenhouse and garden, so now it’s time to add animals to my urban farm.
So yesterday I received two hens from a mate of mine and I’m going to try my hand at incorporating them into the mini ecosystem that is my garden. I don’t want to freak them out and there’s a lot going on in my house what with my two kids and three dogs, so I’m just going to give them some time to settle in and acclimatize to their new environment, but they will be well looked after.
That means that this coming weekend will be spent building them a little coop so they can have a space for them to call their own, before I let them out to roam free in the garden which is something I’m really excited about. It will take me one step closer to creating a symbiotic mini-ecosystem in my garden, where all the elements of nature are working together to create a fruitful environment.
Chickens are ‘omnivores’, and I can promise you that if they had a choice between grain or seed and protein in the form of insects and snails, they’ll choose protein every time, so I’m very curious as to how they integrate into the garden. My hope is that they will become my little pest eradicators by eating all those little creepy crawlies that are normally a gardener’s nightmare, not to mention the free fertilizer that they’ll produce as they go about their business…plus the eggs!
At the moment they’re sitting on a clutch of about 10 eggs each, but if you get some chickens for your house you can expect one egg per day and just like any food that you produce yourself, it will taste better than anything else you will find. Here’s an interesting little tip: you don’t actually need to refrigerate eggs. In nature, the hen will lay an egg each day until she has a substantial clutch of about 10 eggs and only then does she incubate them. The reason for this is that all the eggs hatch at the same time, making it easier for the mother to look after them and giving them a much better chance of survival.
This is all about maintaining that connection to where your food comes from which is something that we all seem to be losing as we march into the 21st century.
Hopefully my new eggs will inspire some great breakfast recipes so keep your eyes glued to this space!