Monday, September 12

Chickens in the City & an Amazing Yard Tour

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Long before it became trendy to
keep chickens in the suburbs,
my friend, Julie,
started her own little chicken farm in her back yard.
I've wanted to see her little feathered friends ever since!
As I toured Julie's yard, I found out that  most of my preconceptions about chicken keeping were really dumb just misunderstandings.
Many urban cities allow chicken-keeping with restrictions 
on how many animals, the distance of the coop from 
the doors of neighboring residences, etc.

Julie's hubby, Craig, built their pen from all
recycled materials.
{My fav is the fence made from tree branches.}

They also have an incredible garden behind their home.
Julie & Craig are currently growing:
grapes, pears, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes,
raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, squash, zucchini, peas, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, cucumbers,
beans, carrots, beets, green onions, leeks, sunflowers, &
lots of herbs.
All on a lot measuring a quarter of an acre!

Here are some questions I asked Julie:
ME: I thought the chickens would be noisy, but I don't hear anything!
JULIE: They're actually really quiet - except when they lay eggs. They get excited and make a little sound to show that they're proud.
ME: Do they lay eggs every day?
JULIE: Not every day, but maybe 5 days out of 7. It averages out to about 2 eggs per day per chicken.
ME: Do you ever have too many eggs?
JULIE: {Smiling} You can never have too many eggs! We share them when we have extras though.

ME: I read that you have to get up early {with the chickens, so to speak} to feed them every day.
JULIE: I only have to feed them about  every three days. I put the food in the container & they just take what they need each day.
ME: No getting up early?
JULIE: No getting up early.
ME: Whew!
ME: What else should we know?
JULIE: Well, if you're keeping chickens, you might want to have a cat also. The feed attracts rodents & "Sweetpea" catches quite a few mice around the pen.
ME: Wow, birds & cats together! Do they get along? 
JULIE: Yes, Sweetpea even goes in the pen with the chickens. But we have learned that "pecking order" isn't just a phrase - it's real! The chickens have to be raised together from babies in order for them to get along. If we introduce new chickens - even young ones - well, I guess that's where the phrase "hen fight" comes from!
ME: Do you name your chickens?
JULIE: No, I just call them "The Girls".
ME: Are they messy?
JULIE: Most of the "waste" is in the coops. We clean the pens & use the droppings for compost. Our garden loves it! The droppings have to age for a year though before we can use them in the garden.
{They put yard & chicken waste in the first compost box}
{Turn it every day for about 4 to 6 weeks}
{Move it to the 2nd compost box}
{And it becomes *compost* like this . . . }

ME: Why do you keep chickens?
JULIE: For self sufficiency. We go to the store for three things--eggs, bread, & milk. I can make my own bread & I can raise chickens for eggs. 
ME: Actually you left out the fourth thing we go to the store for--pop tarts {or potato chips}! But anywho, I guess what we need now is a cow!
JULIE: {Who wisely always takes me with a grain of salt} Laughs.

As you can see, this was all
so fascinating!
I tried some of the eggs--thinking they would be . . .
well . . . weird, but they tasted great.

Thanks, Craig & Julie, for teaching me 
a thing or two about chickens & gardening.

Linking to these great parties:
The Sunday Showcase at Under The Table & Dreaming
Nifty Thrifty Sunday at Nifty Thrifty Things
Talent Tuesday at Vintage Wanna Be
Trash to Treasure Tuesday at Sassy Sites
Tutorials & Tips Tuesday at Home Stories A 2 Z