I’ve been reading a lot on how to reduce my expenses. One of the big tips I’m seeing is that many people are growing their own food, and even raising their own animals for milk and eggs.
My son and I were watching some show on Discovery the other night that went into some detail about “urban homesteading” that really caught my interest, and unfortunately his too. I was more interested in starting a garden to grow fresh vegetables in. But my son, well he decided having chickens would be “awesome mom”.
Of course I said no, but my curiosity was up, so I started reading about it. I also started paying attention to people’s back yards while we were driving around town, and while I was on my way to and from work. You know what? I spotted a few chicken coops. Not in town of course, but out of town a bit, where we live. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not in the country, but in typical suburbia.
But even in suburbia, I saw chicken coops … people really are raising chickens. Not only is it fun, but you can use the manure for your vegetable garden and you get fresh eggs. Oh, and they eat bugs and weeds. Less bugs, that’s a good thing.
The first thing you have to find out if you’re considering raising chickens is: are they legal? Each town, city, and county has it’s own laws, so you’ll need to make a few phone calls to find out. Also, if you are in a home owners association, you’ll need to check the bylaws, as many prevent raising farm animals. Fortunately for me, we’re allowed.
Where to find chickens
If you decide you want chickens, where is the best place to get them? Turns out there are a lot of places (so do a google search) but I found a bunch listed in the local paper and on Craigslist. I’m not ready to buy them just yet but I wanted to know and understand the costs.
How to care for chickens
Now here’s where things get a little more complex. Chickens aren’t terribly hard to care of, but for someone like me who’s always wondered, what do chickens eat anyway?, the process seemed a bit…uh…challenging.
To care for chickens, you need:
- A coop
- Flooring – pine shavings are recommended
- Food & Water
- Treats (yep, you read that right, chickens get treats too)
- Fencing - I don’t have a lot of land, and would not want them getting out into the road.
I’m still on the “chicken fence” about whether or not I want to take this leap, especially since I’m not home during the day. But based on what I’ve been reading, it does seem kind of fun and has some really nice benefits. Turns out too that chickens can be really pretty and very friendly. Again, my son is all excited and keeps asking me nightly when we’re getting our chickens.
I still want to do a little more reading, and really understand all of this before I jump in. Have you raised chickens? Have any tips or advice for me?