Monday, August 1, 2011

Palm Sunday: Yard-to-Table



In my last year of undergrad I had the opportunity to take a break from kinesiology & physiology courses & branch out & take some anthropology electives. I was hesitant at first because I have only ever enjoyed math or science classes but Ben promised me that I would love it. Little did I know it would change my life, my way of thinking, & our home. I read omnivore's dilemma, a book that explores one man's journey of food & society. The book opened my eyes to a whole new world, I really started to think about what I was eating and where it came from. I then proceeded to watch Food Inc and began to understand big business over taking the family farm. I was quickly inspired to change my food ways starting with buying local, drinking raw milk, going to more farmers markets, growing my own stuff, and getting CHICKENS.


When I approached Ben with the backyard chicken idea he was thrown off but like always did whatever he could to make me happy. He literally built me a coop over night out of wood scraps from the fence he made. I met this lovely woman at a farm-to-table food event at Woodland Farm who accidentally ordered 24 chickens for her family instead of 6 so she was very eager to give us a couple. We started modestly with two and it was so easy we got two more!


Quick Facts on chickens:
1. You legally can only have 5 in the city.(We are a little rebellious & now have 6--don't tell).
2. You do not need a rooster to have fresh eggs every morning (hens ovulate and that process is what produces an egg...roosters just help them make chicks). 
3. Hens lay an egg on average every other day.
4. Chickens need grit--in our case oyster shells-- in order to make calcium to form the shell. We didn't know this at first and our chickens were laying shell-less eggs for a few weeks.
5. The best place to get organic chicken feed is Fresh Start on Jefferson St. Chickens also love fresh veggies or food scraps!
6. Water is essential and chickens like to peck at a bottle that has a nipple lid. We use a 2-liter Dr. Pepper bottle with a coat hanger through the bottom that hangs on the roost inside the main coop house.
7. They love to eat my weeds which is a really nice perk!But watch out...they don't know the difference between weeds and hydrangeas.
8. When you build a coop make sure it is well ventilated, has some removable nesting boxes (think wooden half shoe boxes), & elevated bars for roosting during the night. They also love to be warm in the winter so invest in a little heating light. Also, hay or cedar chips are good to spread around on the floor because they insulate, cut down on poo smells, and provide a cushion for projectile egg laying.
9.Make sure you secure the coop door at night to hinder critters who love the taste of chicken like I do! This is not a joke...be prepared, if you get chickens some will die and it is weird at first. 
10. Chicken poop makes GREAT compost!

P.S. You can get almost all the equipment you need at Fresh Start! Advice included!


The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams

so much depends

upon


a red wheel
barrow


glazed with rain
water


beside the white
chickens.

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