Thursday, 11 August 2011

Meet the Chooks!

Although not strictly gardening - I thought it would be nice to talk a bit about my lovely chickens this month and encourage any of you out there, thinking of having a “chook” or two to definitely consider it - they are easy to keep, great fun to watch and there is the added bonus of beautiful tasty eggs!

This is my second lots of ‘girls’ as the first batch, which arrived three years ago, have sadly all died - they were rescued by a friend of mine from a battery farm, so were not in particularly good spirits when I got them! So this time I thought I would make sure of what I was buying.

I found a local breeder via the internet and got six lovely girls on POL - now this is short for Point of Lay and means that the chickens are just old enough to start laying eggs - this ensures that you get the most amount of time for eggs during their lives - as they don’t lay forever!

I keep them in a shed, with sawdust and hay inside, which I can lock at night so they can’t get out and Mr Fox can’t get it, but you can keep hens in a much smaller space - in fact there are special houses available to buy, or you could make your own - I am just lucky to have the space for a bigger house! They also have a run - a space fenced off with chicken wire but I also let them free range in the garden as they are brilliant at eating the grubs and pests that get into your plants.

As long as you provide food, water and shelter, they will be happy. I feed them a mixture of layers pellets (special food for hens) and corn with added grit which is needed for them to make strong and healthy shells. They also get lots of vegetable scraps and love lettuce, cabbage, courgettes and tomatoes - don’t give them any cooked food though, as this attracts the rats!

My girls are all named after characters from the BBC series Larkrise to Candleford, and I often sit with a cup of tea in the afternoon watching their antics and talking to them - passers by must think I am mad, but I love it. And as I mentioned before there is an added bonus of tasty eggs - and I mean tasty - with beautiful dark yellow yolks which are superb simply boiled or put into a huge range of other meals - particularly cakes! It kind of makes sense - the chickens eat the grubs so the veggies grow and we get to eat the veggies, sharing them with the chickens. Circle of life stuff, if you know what I mean. Happy gardening.

-- Jane Dubinksi

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