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Keeping Chickens in a City Garden
Why we decided to get chickens and how we prepared for their arrival
A couple of years ago I was introduced to the idea of keeping chickens by a work colleague. He waxed lyrical about the joys of chicken keeping and fresh eggs everyday, and after a taste of these unbelievably tasty fresh eggs and browse of a couple of chicken keeping books my husband and I decided we should go for it. Unfortunately I was supposed to then go and work in Germany for a year and so the idea was put on the back burner.
It was when watching the Edible Garden (BBC) a couple of months later that we decided to get our chickens. Alys Fowler presented such an idyllic scene, a garden both edible and beautiful with chickens clucking away at the bottom of the garden providing pest control, entertainment and food. That sounded good to us.
So we trawled the Internet for the best deals on a coop, searched chicken keeping websites for hints and tips and finally chose a farm to get our chickens from. We have a small garden in Tottenham, 30ft x 40ft and we grow as much food as possible, variations of tomatoes, cucumber, courgettes, salad leaves, spring onion, french beans, radish, strawberries and a well stocked herb garden all mixed in with flowers. It is important to us that the garden doesn't turn into a farmyard and that it keeps its identity as a place to relax in as well as productive. We chose a wooden coop and decided to extend the run so that they would have space to roam without destroying our vegetables and flowers.
But beware - the books and websites tell tales of doom - Fantastic Mr. Fox, the magician of the animal kingdom - no matter what you do He will get in eventually. However you can take measures to prevent him getting at your chooks. We dug a trench approximately 1ft deep and laid chicken wire vertically to line up with the coop and a 1/2ft right angle away from the coop and filled in with earth, stapled the wire to the coop and so that Mr. Fox should have a hard time digging under to reach our girls. The coop itself has a built in run and is also supposed to be fox proof and a fox has tried and failed to get into the coop.
And so, prepared, we went to get our chickens. After more extensive research on the web we found a small farm in Cambridge who supplied birds at a reasonable cost. If you are able to go a little farther afield you can get 3 birds for the price of one. They are fully vaccinated and sold at point of lay and on the second day the Red one provided us with a fantastic double yolker!
Now I should explain about names, we were originally thinking of Berry and Norris and Num (because they are Chooks) but my husband decided against naming them at all and so they are referred to as The Red one, The White one and The Black one. This is a whole new subject for another hub.
I have decided to blog about keeping chickens. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and so I am going to tell you what works for us. Our hens seem happy and our cats don't mind them either and our garden is flourishing with food and flowers - who would believe this oasis is in the middle of the city and in Tottenham no less!
The Edible Garden on the BBC
© 2010 mooboomoo