Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chickens, chickens everywhere...

No doubt about it, chickens are in.

With surging interest in home vegetable gardens and the growing sustainability movement, chickens are becoming very popular.

They are moving from the country to the hearts of cities as gardeners everywhere branch out into these "pets with benefits."

That's how Jessi Bloom describes her chickens in her book, Free Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard.

I'm fascinated by chickens. I don't have any chickens, but my husband used to. About 57,000 of them. When he was a small boy growing up in the Midwest, his family raised chickens.

I've heard lots and lots of chicken tales.

Which I why I was eager to read Jessi's book when Timber Press announced its contest to win a chicken garden start-up kit as part of its promotion of Free Range Chicken Gardens. They sent me the book to review and I got to learn everything I always wanted to know about chickens but was afraid to ask my husband!

Right now they are giving away a complete chicken garden start-up kit, including:
  • A $50 gift card for chicken feed or supplies from McMurray Hatchery
  • One chicken coop plan from The Garden Coop (a $20 value)
  • 1 lb. of organic chicken forage blend and seeds for chicken-friendly plants from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (a $20 value)
  • A copy of Free-Range Chicken Gardens
I know my husband would like to have some chickens -- maybe just 56,995 or so less of them than he used to. So I figured I'd better do a little research about the chicken and the egg.

Free Range Chicken Gardens is a fascinating and beautiful photographic journey through the chicken gardens of many families, combined with excellent and honest advice for anyone wanting to raise chickens.

It's practical -- it's chock full of advice about the benefits of raising chickens and how to avoid the pitfalls of having them in a garden.

Bloom outlines the natural soil building capabilities of chickens and how they help to keep weeds and pests under control. In addition to the plants and habitat needed to raise chickens, she provides detailed information and even design plans focused on creating a successful chicken garden and keeping your "other" plants safe. Barriers and fencing and hedgerows are all reviewed with pros and cons. And she recommends a host of diverse plants for the chickens to hide in and browse around.

I had to laugh when I got to the chapter on "The Chicken Infrastructure." It sounds so technical, but it's all common sense advice about the 3 Cs of the chicken garden - the chicken coop, chicken run and chicken paddocks.

It also included specifics about the different breeds, where to get them, what to feed them and how to keep them safe from predators.

Free Range Chicken Gardens is filled with information, creative plans, and inspirational photos and stories of other loving chicken gardeners and their pets.

We have a no-chicken policy in our neighborhood, so I guess I won't be getting any chickens soon.

For now I'll just have to settle for my other dirt-scratching, digging, plant-eating pet.

Miss Dakota.

15 comments:

Linda/patchwork said...

You got chickens?

Diana said...

No, big dog girl eats chickens. The only thing they could tell us about her when we adopted her from the shelter 3 years ago.

Ally said...

I'm relatively new to raising backyard chickens, but I can speak from experience when I say that chickens can be very destructive in the garden. I have 2 acres and wouldn't you know, they make a beeline for the garden every time. I'd love to know what the secret is, and that book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the review.

Abbey said...

Thanks for the review! I am going to get this book for my husband for Valentine's. Our neighborhood is chicken-free too, but we always talk about having chickens some day.

The Curious Holts said...

I have chickens and love them. Mine are totally free-range. I screen all my growing food, but they don't seem to bother too many of my flowers. They do eat the ruellia and amaranth, but that's it...so far. They WILL scratch up anything new that I plant so I have to put tomato cages around anything new. The eggs are well worth the trouble. The book looks adorable.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I think I have shared this before, we thought about having chickens in our new digs. The HOA won't allow them, so Charlie was going to have the chicks wear little jackets and then tell everyone they were our grandkids. :-)
We do eat fresh farm eggs, there is one right up the road, early in the morning I have hear the roosters. Good luck with getting started with some chickens.

katina said...

My neighborhood is also a "Chicken free" zone. I put that in quotations because while the HOA rules do not allow fowl, you can have pet birds. So the chickens are pets and are not meant to be used for food or food production...still...I want chickens.

Linda/patchwork said...

How interesting. When I pulled your post up yesterday, there was only the title. So, I thought you got chickens.
You just never know what Blogger is going to do.

Chickens aren't allowed here. But, those fresh eggs are certainly a temptation.

LindaCTG said...

Well, Dakota is worth not having chickens! Great review and looks like a super book. If you want to satisfy your inner chicken urge, the Austin Funky Chicken Coop tour is April 7.

Diana said...

Ally - Preventing and dealing with the destruction caused by the chickens is the major thrust of the book.

Abbey -- It's a fun book with beautiful pictures and stories in addition to the detailed information. He'll like it.

The Curious Holts - I think you are lucky that they don't bother your plants too much, or, according to the book, you've done it all the right way!

Janet - Chicks in jackets, that's hilarious! We do have chickens and roosters on the country road behind us. They don't wake me, but when I go outside early in the morning I do hear them sometimes.

Katina - Are chickens pets? That's a good question. My friends who have them certainly think of them that way.

Linda/Patchwork - Mystery solved. I accidentally hit return after entering the title and it posted! Then I immediately went in and wrote the post. You must have caught me the first time around!

Linda-CTG - Thanks so much for reminding me about the chicken coop tour - I think I've talked Jeff into going!

Roberta said...

Hey! I had to visit this great blog I've been hearing about. I was on the Garden bloggers FB page and followed the link here. I am sorry to hear about your dog Tanner. The pictures are sweet. We lost two of our dogs last year and it seems like could not have possible been that long ago. I still miss them like crazy.

Roberta said...

And...speaking of chickens, we have 8 total. Our best layers are the Delawares. They are all little clowns, full of personality. They are pets with the added bonus of providing very fresh eggs. We have ours fenced off from the garden but let them out from time to time to peck around, gobble some bugs and "mow". We've got pictures up at my blog if you're interested.

Diana said...

Roberta - So glad you found my blog and enjoyed it. Thanks for you sympathies about Tanner - sorry to hear about your dogs. The new pup is learning & doing better every day. The chickens sound like a lot of fun - an adventure every day, right?

Garden Sheds said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog and the chickens. Very informative post indeed. I look forward for more post from you.

Christy said...

The Funky Chicken Coop Tour would love to have you. Thanks for the plug Linda! Austin's Fourth Annual The Funky Chicken Coop Tour will take place April 7, 2012 from 10am to 4pm Rain or Shine.
For more information you can visit our webpage: www.AustinCoopTour.org