Recommendation Wednesday: Chickens

2011-07-07 20.54.47This post is to sing the praises of the idea behind having, as one book put it, ä few hens at the end of the garden”.  Myself and Mrs Llama have kept chickens for nearly 5 years now, and I confess it’s brought us hours of delightful entertainment watching them bathe, lounge around the garden and get excited when we offer them tasty treats.  They’re pets that also help feed us with a steady supply of tasty eggs – on the occasions when our hens haven’t been laying I feel almost a traitor going to the shop and buying some OTHER hens eggs.

Chickens are also a boon for the home composter, in that their waste goes into the compost, enriches and helps break down the other matter in there much faster.  Not quite hot composting, but certainly our heaps are much warmer since we had hens.  The garden crops they’ve helped feed as a result have also been a whole lot healthier and lush too.  Problem with slugs or other bugs? These may as well be chicken-crack for the way they wolf them down with delight.

2014-02-26 13.13.44Chickens can be mildly terrifying, and I’m not talking about a giant cock* with his dangerous spurs.  If you don’t believe me, why not lie down on your back on a summer’s day and watch as the hens run towards you.  If like me you’ve seen any dinosaur movie, your mind will rapidly flee to thoughts of velociraptors.  And rightly so, given the hens common ancestors.  They are winged lizards, and were they any bigger I suspect they’d probably try and eat us.

One of the claims you’ll often hear about hens is how they’re so much cheaper to raise and get eggs, than buying eggs yourself.  I guess if you had hundreds that might be true, but then the economic argument was never the reason why we took them on.  We had a big garden that lacked a certain something – and hens have added a true sparkle.

Yes, when it’s raining like today it is more of a chore to feed and water them, and yes there have been nights we’ve worried about how they’re fairing in gales, frost and snow.  And our first hens even had to live through half the garden catching fire! And yes, there is the end of life experience to go through too.  It broke me a lot emotionally to dispatch my first sickly hen, and it never gets easy.  But it was better to send them off than watch them suffer,

2011-10-15 11.50.42But for now I shall think happier thoughts of hens 2.0 (Iron, Ghost and Pepper-Pots Chicken) and how much fun they seemed evening this afternoon.  Chickens, every garden should have some!

*Or Rooster if you’re a Yank…but you know, I think I prefer the British word 😉

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4 thoughts on “Recommendation Wednesday: Chickens

  1. What happens when they um… get old? As I don’t like chicken to eat, and also fear I couldn’t kill one who had given me eggs even if I did, it does worry me and puts me off keeping them. Even though keeping chickens isn’t an option right now, I like to day dream 😉

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    1. Our first chickens lived out a long and happy retirement, scratching around and providing valuable waste for the compost bin; and doubtless when the current batch’s egg laying days are done they’ll do the same. It’s why they’re part pet, part working animal really. Dispatching a chicken isn’t a lot of laughs certainly, and I confess I ended up sobbing the first time I had to do it. But when you see something you love struggling to even walk anymore, let alone drink or eat, it’s a mercy. And this was after weeks of hand feeding them through tubes to try and help them recover.

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        1. We try our best! Current batch were rescued from a prior owner who mistreated them – hence they’re enjoying a much better quality of life these days. They’re still very nervy around humans though.

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