I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I am very excited about several projects we’ve got on the go and that we plan to start this year. Something I’m really looking forward to is enjoying our first clutch of fresh eggs from our chickens.
On 19 October 2014 our family went head first into the chicken business, when we brought four Brahma chickens home, into a partially completed enclosure.
The 3m x 4m chicken run was nicknamed C-Max by one of our good friends while it was under construction by my husband, his dad and our groundsman. It was a bit of a learning curve, as we built it initially with chicken wire. We learnt the hard way that chicken wire is not a safe material for chicken runs…imagine that.
The enclosure was redone with concrete foundations, galvanized mesh (also known as hardware cloth in the USA) & enclosed at the top as well to keep wild birds and neighborhood cats out. The sides were screened off with panels made of invasive wood to give the chickens peace of mind and to be less of a visual attraction for our dogs. Now that it’s completed and blends nicely into the garden, we call it the Chicken McMansion. The chooks are happily living in an XL dog igloo (bought brand new for them), lined with pine shavings, while we decide on a design for an actual coop in there.
We are also generating chicken manure compost in a cool way I read about on the forums. We line the floor of the chicken run with fresh lawn clippings once or twice a week. The chickens deposit their valuable manure on the grass and work it all into a fine organic mass. That gets hauled out and placed on the general compost heap to mature further, until it will be ready to use in the garden in a few months.
My husband decided to start raising chickens for eggs and for fun, as he was feeling a bit nostalgic about raising chickens when he was a little kid. Initially I recoiled at the idea of chickens in my garden. I also happened to be scared of them, after being chased by hens as a youngster, after I tried to play with their fluffy chicks. However, after visiting a breeder north of Johannesburg, and speaking to her about all their quirks, spending time on the chicken forums and taking care of our Brahma hens, I really started to enjoy it. Our girls will start laying in March, hopefully.
In my hand in the main picture are three farm fresh eggs out of the 2 dozen we bought from the chicken breeder, for eating. They are from different breeds of chickens. Aren’t those colours wonderful? The green egg is from a hybrid Easter Egger chicken – they are hybrids of brown egg layers and the blue egg layers (either Araucana or Ameraucana chickens). For Christmas, I campaigned for a pair of Araucana chickens that lay BLUE eggs! I didn’t get my wish, but I live in hope. I can’t wait to go out in the morning and collect a basket full of different coloured eggs for breakfast, just like an Easter basket.