“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” ~ S. Parkes Cadman
A year ago, our chicken run looked like this…..
What a difference a year makes!
The first thing you notice is the thriving passionfruit vine. Less than 9 months old, it has shaded the chicken run in the most beautiful way, offering cool protection to the ladies as the weather warms. And yes, lots of passionfruit in the coming months will be a bonus.
Too much passionfruit is the kind of problem I aspire to have.
The tiny bed in front of the roost has just enough space to grow some forage for my girls. Last winter, I grew rocket, and the girls were able to peck at it through the mesh. I am growing multi-bloomed dwarf sunflowers as my girls LOVE sunflower seeds. A few tomatoes have sprung up uninvited, but are welcome regardless.
I have also planted the wormwood and lads love around the perimeter as I have read from numerous sources how it can help control intestinal worms and deter flies. I have no idea if this is actually true. I use a few springs of the herb to scrub inside their water bowl and occasionally strew it around the run. They are also free to peck it through the mesh. Since my chickens are worm and fancy-free, maybe there is something to it. Wormwood’s pungent, overwhelming aroma, is robust enough to mask the pong of poo.
It’s the the chickens themselves that have been an absolute delight. I hope I am never again without them in my yard. So much personality in one bird! They have reliably laid eggs all through the year. Whenever we have extra, I try to share them around and have reinforced relationship and made new friends as a result. Except once, I had left us a bit short, and had to buy eggs from the supermarket. Although I purchased free range eggs, Mr 4 had an emotional meltdown when his breakfast egg was not of it’s usual quality. Even before he took a bite he was loudly suspicious of it’s yellow hue and “weird” smell. He refused to eat it.
And then there’s poop.
I line their roost tray with the weekly community newspaper, each day removing their hefty contribution to deposit in my compost tumblers. I don’t mean to brag, but my compost is awesome as a result. Maybe I’m a bit weird, but their poop is just as valuable to me (if not more so) than the eggs. There is value in good, healthy poop from happy animals. I know there’s no chemical nasties leeching into my soil and resulting veggies.
So if you have the space and the inclination, I cannot recommend backyard chooks enough. If you can handle a budgerigar, you could handle chook, they have about the same level of maintenance.
So what about you? Do you love your girls? Or are you thinking about making 2014 your own, personal “Year of the Chicken”? I would love to hear what you think, please leave a comment below.