My first additions to the homestead were four silver-laced Wyandotte hens. One little chicken was supposed to be a rooster, but sexing chickens at a young age is not reliable as I have found out. My little flock, AKA Frankie and las Chicas, has turned out to be quiet helpful. Why chickens you wonder?
My ladies are very helpful in scratching up the soil and making sure that no pile of leaves goes unturned. Most of the time, they have the run of the yard, but in the fall I gave them a job. Yes, my chickens have jobs to do just like the rest of us. Just be sure to fence off new garden planting. Freshly tilled and mulched garden spaces are a paradise for chickens, and they will uproot young plants within minutes. I find they are easily redirected with a little coaxing.
Clearing a New Garden Space
I created a fenced area that was about 10×15 feet. The grass/weed area was mowed down low to the ground. Each day they were turned out into the fenced area and in about 8 weeks, my little helpers had cleared the new garden area. If chickens are left in a confined area, they will peck, scratch and dig until the area was just about bare dirt.
The most obvious job a chick has is laying eggs. My girls started laying at about six months of age. They have been providing about one egg per chicken per day without pause since then. Even as temperatures dipped below freezing and we got a foot of snow, they continued to provide a steady provision of eggs each day. They are gorgeous, organic eggs that taste delicious. Once they started laying, I gave them oyster shell scratch to help they develop nice eggs shells. Also give them a handful of corn on nights that will fall below freezing.
My chickens are very entertaining. Just watching them roam the yard is hilarious in itself. They follow me around as I do my chores, finding bugs and weeds to eat up. They coo and cluck when I walk out with treats of kitchen scraps. If you’ve never seen a chicken take a dust bath, you are truly missing out on a good laugh.
I treat my chickens to snacks leftover from the meal prep from the night before. They love anything with seeds… cucumbers, peppers, melons… but a word of caution that apple seeds in large quantities are not good for chickens (or the consumer of their eggs) because they contain cyanide. They efficiently dispose of the scraps and provide me with lots of natural fertilizer for my garden (AKA poop).
Feathered and Furred Friends
Not every dog will be kind to your feathered friends, but my pooch grew up with the flock and they coexist without harassing each other. They even seems to enjoy each others’ company since they wonder the grounds together. Do you think my dog thinks he’s part of the flock?