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Brushing Up on Chickens

August 16th, 2012

I’ve read countless books and articles throughout the years about keeping chickens, though I’ve never actually had chickens. Since it will only be a little over a month until I have them, it was time to brush up on my chicken knowledge.

Earlier this spring I requested Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard from the library and it arrived last week – perfect timing.

It provided the perfect refresher course in chicken husbandry with a permaculture twist that most other books don’t have. Since permaculture is something I try to practice in my garden, I really appreciated this aspect of the book.

I’m sure, like most things, having chickens is a learning experience and most of the knowledge you need will come through experience. Now I just have to decide what new area to study and learn about, goats, cows, pigs – all things I hope to end up with someday.

What skills have you been reading up on recently?

16 Comments to “Brushing Up on Chickens”
  1. Allison on August 16, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I will say that chicken friendly gardens are great, but a few just attacked my tomatoes, so they won’t be going in there anytime soon:(

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  2. Melissa on August 16, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I love that book- I’ve read it twice now and I don’t even have chickens! But I hope too soon- we’ll see! It’s been helpful in a few things to do with my ducks too!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  3. daisy on August 16, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I recently reread the MaryJane’s Ideabook and have been reading up on chicken coops too. Can’t wait to hear about your new poultry setup. I’ll bet it will be fabulous!

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  4. Joan on August 16, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I’d love to hear about what you learn about letting chickens free range in the garden – I’d like to find a way to make it work! The only way we’ve been successful is to put the chickens in a chicken tractor – otherwise they eat/scratch all the young seedlings. I think if all of our plants were the same age and fully grown maybe they wouldn’t bother them too much. Off to plant some more beans and greens in the rain… Gotta garden when I can!

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  5. Jay Miller on August 16, 2012 at 9:14 am

    I love my chickens, nothing like fresh eggs every day. Word of Advice; Avoid pigs at all cost! I tried them twice, they STINK and their only goal in life is to escape from their pen and eat. One got out and made it’s way into the tack room of my barn, while rutting around it managed to push the door closed, while inside!! Needless to say the room was trashed and STUNK!

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  6. Rhonda on August 16, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I can’t wait to have chickens some day! Lately I’m been reading up on Herbal Medicines and antibiotics. I’ve also been making some of my own herbal salves and lip balm. I’m really enjoying it.

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  7. Shannon on August 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Honey Bees. I added ducks this year and would like to add honey bees next year.

    Reply to Shannon's comment

  8. angie h on August 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I have been reading up on fermenting foods…hoping to start that soon! I was thinking of starting with your pickles.

    We hope to keep chickens some day!

    Reply to angie h's comment

  9. Vicki on August 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

    This is my first time raising chickens, and I have to say I love them full of personaility! I have 4. Each one is different, my girls and I are looking forward to all the different colored eggs they will lay. Were going to be adding to the mix next next year. I did a lot of picture hunting for what kind of coop I wanted to build and once I had a general idea, I sketched it out. I have to say it turned out pretty darn good. 98% of it is reclaimed lumber from a old play house/shed in my yard. . Good luck when you get yours!

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  10. whit on August 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Isn’t that book wonderful? Jessi Bloom wrote a wonderful book. I love that she addressed the issue of gardening for chickens, rather than “with chickens”. I think there is a ton of misconception out there that chickens make a lovely addition to the family garden–like say in the middle of August when summer fruits are maturing and fall plants are thriving. Chickens will damage a thriving garden in a heartbeat, which is why they need their own space they can hunt and peck in. Couple weeks ago, i found an A.W.O.L. chicken in our greenhouse taking a bite out of each ripe tomato. Crazy girl. Jesse’s book is going to help me create a perennial garden for our chickens in their pastures. Give them so privacy from the road and the hawks. :)

    We were looking into goats for want of not buying petrol to maintain 5 acres of grass a week. We couldn’t decide if we actually wanted to purchase goats, so we are looking to wage contract with a woman who has goats but no yard of her own. :) So exciting to find like minded individuals who you can help, who enjoy each other’s company, and who you can learn from, all at the same time.

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  11. Rocky on August 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Raising hens for fresh eggs are no so hard, I think. I learned everything I needed to know about them on internet. We now have 12 hens. One big problem we are facing now is what to do with older hens that stopped laying. Yes, we are a big animal lovers. By the way, making them stay out of vegetable and flower garden is almost impossible task if they are truly free ranged. We also have 7 ducks in our back yard, taking after Elliot Colman’s suggestion for slug control. As it turned out, they do not like to eat slugs, but love to munch on my lettuce and anything else green :( Good luck on your new venture!

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  12. KimH on August 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Hmn… I read Kindle Fire for Dummies recently and I’ve been reading up some on fermenting different foods (Im on a huge kombucha kick at the moment.. YUM!) but mostly the skill I’ve been reading up on lately is reading totally brainless worthless novels
    I spent the last 20-25 years reading almost nothing but mind, body, spiritual & skill related type books.. I decided about a month or two ago that I needed a change of pace for a little while..
    I do this every 5 or so years… I’ll read nothing but brainless crap and enjoy each and every moment of it.. haha..

    I still have some good books awaiting me from the library.. Most have to do with canning or preserving, which of course, we’re right in the middle of.

    I had “Folks this aint Normal” by Joel Salatin but it had to go back to the library before I got it read. I put another hold on it so it’ll come back around again soon.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  13. tj on August 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    …I will definitely have to add this book to my Wish List too! Thank you for the referral! :o)

    …I just love your lil’ flock and I’m certain they are gonna just you too! There’s really not a whole lot to chickens, they’re a simple bunch really. It’s a shame we don’t live closer to one another as I have some Bantam Frizzle Cochins I could give you, I had a hen go broody earlier this Spring and she hatched out 11 chicks! She’s trying to go broody again but I’m not having it as this last batch there were 7 roosters out of those 11 chicks. Too many roosters! Ugh!

    …I would like to know more about bee keeping and eventually have a hive. So I’m looking at different books to purchase to help me on that subject.

    …Hope you’re having a lovely evening!

    …Blessings :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

  14. Claire on August 17, 2012 at 2:37 am

    I have that book! I’ll be getting chickens at some stage, but i’ve decided to concentrate on setting up the vege garden in our new place first. I’m thinking of sectioning off part of our front yard for them (we have a hedge so it won’t be on view to the casual passerby) and getting them up into the backyard in a chicken tractor as needed.

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  15. Traci on August 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I have not read that book but I will put in a request at the library – looks interesting. I have 10 hens on an acre and I used to let them totally free range UNTIL…. they make a huge mess not always where you want and we lost one to a coyote. So, a great solution we found was a moveable electric fence. We connect it to the chicken house and the chickens have a huge yard to work, while in an adjacent area we planted a cover crop, we then moved the fence and let the chicken at the cover crop and planted our tomatoes in their old run. In a year Ill move them back and plant the other side. Back and forth -so the soil is always being fertilized and the chickens are happy for the yummys. It’s kind of like a chicken tractor only on a bigger scale.

    Im very excited for you. I wanted chickens for years and having them now is so fun. They are great pets , I have a few characters. I’m glad you are getting your dream home….with chickens.

    Reply to Traci's comment

  16. Sara Ward on September 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    We’ve had chickens in our West London garden for just over 5 years and it’s great!

    We started keeping bees as well last year and have just taken off our first crop of honey.

    For extra encouragement, you might like Ten Top Tips for Keeping Chicks:

    I’m sure you’ll love your chickens…

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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