Monday, 2 June 2008

Cheeky Chicken

Growing your own now seems synonymous with laying your own. Not literally, obviously, but vicariously via a couple of pet chickens. And with the price of eggs these days it can only get more popular.

I read in the Sunday Times yesterday there's a sharp increase in the number of backyard chooks. Jamie Oliver, I recall, was partly responsible. At the moment I like the idea of chickens in theory, or with roast potatoes, but not in all their clucking glory.

While painting a picture of a green, idyllic lifestyle these articles forget to mention a few interesting, possibly downsides, to keeping chickens. Like how they ruin your lawn and herb garden, poo everywhere and entice other, less pleasant visitors to your patch.

We've had hens for years now (what trendsetters we are) and the latest lot have been raised by us thanks to a mate with a broody chicken (which we always name Gladys) a broody coop and some fertilised eggs.

Our chickens have a lovely pen at the back corner of our garden but they're going to be evicted, into what I'm not entirely sure. For their size they're taking up an awful lot of room which has been earmarked as the Children's Corner.

Apart from the eggs there are other benefits to keeping them, I just have trouble recalling what. Ah, yes, they like eating slugs and snails. I especially brought home a bucket of them from the allotment yesterday but they didn't appear to fancy supper, tucked up as they were, so as I'd left it too late the wretched slimy creatures no doubt escaped and are chomping their way through my garden as I type.

Then there is the chicken escapee. I can't tell which one it is but she always gets out of the pen and is truly free-range, roaming the length and breadth of our street. And when she is not doing that she is nesting in my herb patch.

At least she left a present but I'm not sure it was worth all the trampling she did. I'm also not sure what it is about that part of our garden, which happens to be a favourite of mine and is housed in an old sink near the back door. We caught the dog burying a bone in it the other week. ~ Sigh ~ I bet Jamie Oliver never has this trouble.


  1. I have wanted to keep chicken for years, but we have a fox sett alongside the house in the woods, and

    I suspect I wouldn't have chickens for very long. When the kids were small they lost their bunnies and guinea pigs to wily Mr Fox, despite them being secure in theirla hutches( oe so we thought) right next to the house.

    I keep meaning to work out whether it's cheaper or more expensive to have your own chucks lay eggs, by the time you have provided housing, bought the birds, grain, mite powder etc ... if they don't work out as very expensive eggs indeed?

    Best wishes,


  2. Zoe, I would say we've never had trouble with Mr F but I don't want to tempt fate.....

    As ever with us the chickens and house were free, former grown ourselves and latter given, second hand (it's an old gineau pig ark so not remotely attractive). The fence and posts plus grain and layers food costs though. Haven't worked out how much.

    Probably best to think of hens as pets with an added bonus.....

  3. My sister kept chickens for about a month. They wrecked her garden, which to be honest wasnt really big enough. They also were very familar. They kept trying to come into the house and this freaked her out. They were replaced by rabbits - which are also eating her garden!!!

  4. I think you are right about 'think of them as pets' Mrs Be, on that basis the temptation to get some Pekin bantams has resurfaced! Useless for eggs, but so very pretty!

  5. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com4 June 2008 at 00:23

    I had two Bantams for a few years I adored. They roamed the garden during the day and at night they stayed in a dog crate in the back of my Ford Explorer. True story. They were safe from raccoons and I couldn't hear the rooster crowing in the morning, so I could sleep. :)