One of the things we have wanted to include on our little farmette is chickens. Not only do chickens lay eggs, and my teenager is, and has always been, a chicken whisperer (and while he is allergic to all mammals/meat/milk, he is not allergic to feathered animals or eggs!), and they are also wonderful in a permaculture system. They eat bugs, weeds, and bits and pieces of garden plants, and they leave rich fertilizer for our compost, orchards, and gardens. We are raising them only for their eggs and fertilizer, not for meat. They will hopefully live a long and happy life here at Lunar Hollow!
We got 6 sexed chicks in early March, and inevitably one was a rooster - so we have 1 big guy and 5 hens. We have 2 golden laced wyandotte, 2 silver laced wyandotte, and 2 barred rock. They should all be pretty cold hardy in our Wisconsin winters. The boys initially wanted to name them after epic video game characters (Ahri, Aurelion Sol, Cassiopeia, Fiora, Jinx, Kai'sa, Shyvana, etc.), but I have just naturally fallen into calling them by names that end with the -ie sound, since it is easy on the mouth and easier to remember for me, so the names are starting to stick. The boy is Budgie, then we have Siouxie, Terri, Cyndi, Annie, and Toni. (Can you tell how old I am from the names?)
We live with a natural woods barrier on one side, but 3 other sides are pretty open for wandering (& one side is along our road), so we have not let them roam without supervision yet. Every day they get out to roam in a different area and we are taking them farther from the coop and run each time, and training them to come back when called (treats!). It took a few of us to herd them back each time, but now I can do it myself with only minimal clucking sounds, as they know what awaits them when they return. As the summer winds down, they will get to wander in our food gardens, medicinal beds, and orchard, and we will know they will come back with us when it is time.
We started with just 6 chickens, but plan to add possibly geese or ducks next year, if we make it through the first winter with the chickens. We shall see. It worked out well for us to start with only 6 and get used to the routine and care of the chickens before expanding.
It is interesting to see the intelligence of the chickens, see their personalities, and see them learn and figure things out. They are fun little dinosaurs! Our next phase for the chickens is figuring out the best way to add some shelter/tarp area for rainy season and as we go into winter and snow. Also, winterizing the coop...any tips?
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, certified permaculture designer (PDC), organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, health justice activist, whole foods maker, and mother of two young adults in south central Wisconsin.