chickens…not in my back yard!

i bought 5 layer chicks in march or 2014 and gave myself a year to try out backyard livestock, however after 10 months it was time to cut the experiment short. the birds were easy and provided an abundance of eggs, too many in fact (or not, if you are one of our neighbours.) in hindsight i think 3 hens would have been plenty.

there is no denying that fresh laid eggs are the best! i might also add that home-grown chickens soon become another pet and are fun to have around with their constant banter and attractive plumage.

the reasons for ending the experiment are three-fold:

cost to maintain – break even or loss for feed, bedding and other supplies vs. value of eggs. i can buy fresh, free range eggs locally at a competitive price.

maintenance – as an avid gardener i looked forward to the « free » fertilizer i would get from the chickens. alas, there was much more than i bargained for. the volume was overwhelming my compost with the mixture of dropping and the shavings that i used for the coop floor. it did not help that my water system popped and flooded the coop, adding to the chore.

nuisances – rodents! in a short time i had rats even though i was diligent in storing feed and cleaning the area. within a two week period i trapped 5 large rats and discovered a nest in my garden with 5 young ones. since shipping the chickens off i have had no further signs of rats or even mice. the second nuisance was odour! and this i blame on both the volume of wast and the size of my yard. i believe it is best to have a fairly large property if you are going to raise chickens, ideally large enough to move the coop, run and compost well away from your residence. unfortunately the coop was a mere 8 metres from the house and the compost even closer!

finally, commitment. unless you have very obliging neighbours or friends you are pretty much committed to staying home year round. it is critical that the birds be fed and watered routinely and that a safe environment is available, which entails letting them out in the morning and locking them up at night.

the chickens, should you be concerned, were sold to a pleasant woman who has a five acre free range operation not far from where i live. i suspect the chickens are much happier with so many friends and more space than i could ever give them.

next task, take down the coop and run and create another garden for more vegetable…i’m sure it will be productive as it will have been well fertilized.

chicken

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we’ve had mild weather for the last few days, so mild, that all traces of winter have disappeared. it’s 7 a.m. and 11 degrees, about the same as a june morning.
i suppose it is natures nudge that i should tidy the greenhouse and ready things for seeding in 2 or 3 weeks. i also need to tear down the chicken coop and run, i sold the chickens (another post soon)! and prepare a new garden. my plan is to put some peas in for the first year, where the chickens once roamed, it should give the ground a good start as a new garden.

my goldfish are doing just fine…it seems i’ve only lost one since last year and that was to a pesky raccoon. i’m amazed at how quickly they come out of their dormancy, once the air temperature reaches 5 or more degrees, there is always the odd swimmer exploring the pond.

the raised beds need turning and the forecast is for sunny days next week…ah, it feels good to get back to the garden, even if only for a few days before the next frost or snow!

orchid
tropical weather and gifts that delight

onions…

onions14 …and lots of them.  i pulled all the storage onions along with the few remaining spanish onions.  after letting them sit on top of the soil for a couple of days, i built a drying rack from salvaged 2×4’s and chicken wire.  later i’ll re-purpose the rack as a grazing frame for the chickens, so they’ll have a regular supply of greens and won’t be able to pull out the roots.

if anyone knows more about red onions and their growing habits i’d like to hear.  i planted the sets at the same time as the others, however they are no bigger than shallots.  they are firm and are great for roasting or chopping up into salads but far too small.

my garlic are dried and going into storage.