We love our girls. Betsy. Mabel. Night-Time.
Their soft clucking. Their scratching. Their endless activity.
We love what they bring to our yard and our home. And I’m not just talking about eggs. Although free-range eggs fresh from the backyard are pretty awesome.
The responsibility and compassion the kids learn from helping to care for the girls is priceless. As is the fact they grow up understanding that food doesn’t actually come from the supermarket. That there is often poop on eggs. And that’s OK.
Truth be told, I expected these benefits. But I have been so happy to discover they are not the only ones.
There are three unexpected ways that owning the girls has impacted our lives, for the better:
1. Waste Reduction
It’s no secret that chickens will eat most table scraps.
But they also love grass clippings, weeds and spent vegetables that have been pulled from the garden.
Fruit and vegies that have past their prime? Chooks love ‘em.
Cheese gone hard? Chooks love it.
Stale bread? Chooks.
All this food and garden waste that would otherwise be tossed in the bin, going directly to landfill to slowly release methane gas into the atmosphere, is instead used to feed our girls. And as a thank you? They give us delicious eggs every day.
Talk about a good deal!
2. Living Composters
This is a tip I learnt direct from Don Burke (’cause we’re tight) and it is such a good one:
Toss weeds, grass clippings, the chickens bedding straw, prunings and regular tables scraps into the pen, as described above. But then watch as the chooks (AKA the living composters) turn that waste into the richest of black gold over the following months.
They aerate the soil, scratch it over, add manure and help break the waste down much quicker than simply tossing it all in a compost bin.
Every 3-6 months, shovel out the top few inches of soil in the chook pen and use it in the garden as a top-notch compost and soil conditioner:
- you can put it directly into the beds (particularly new ones) and fork it through the soil
- add it to the compost bins to break down over time into a less rich (but still amazing) compost that can then be used anywhere
3. Peace and Happiness
There is something meditative about watching the girls cluck and scratch and work. Something wholesome. Earthy. Beautiful.
I have spent many a spare minute just watching the girls go about their business. Figuring out their personalities. Establishing the pecking order. (Betsy is The Queen.) It’s so easy to lose yourself for that moment, escape from your own head for a while.
And it simply adds another dimension to our home. Which is what this Slow Home journey is all about. Making room and time for the things that matter.
Do you own chickens? Or other livestock?
I dream of a day when we move to a small-holding in the Byron Hinterland. Goats, chooks, a horse or two. Vegetable garden and an orchard. (Thankfully, dreams are free!)