My first step in leading a more back to basics lifestyle really began two years ago when I got a chicken coup from freecycle and 4 hybrid hens from a farm. We (my husband, 2 sons and I) named one each and we quickly grew accustomed to four fresh eggs every morning.
I think the work involved in chicken keeping is no more than other small pets like rabbits. You change their water and feed them every day, change their straw and clean the muck them out. The eggs taste, honestly, about five times tastier than those from a shop which are about 4 weeks old by the time they get to the supermarket shelf.
Inevitably there is one big issue with keeping hens: foxes. Our first gang came to an untimely end a few months after we got one. It was not a nice experience to find them scattered across the garden. We then upgraded our coup to an eglu with an eglu run. This is expensive, but we saw it as an investment as it would keep the hens safe. Yesterday I awoke for a second time to find the remains of my hens across our garden. Unfortunately I had left the cage/run door open and a fox had obviously been passing. Not a great experience, as you can imagine, and credit to my husband for dealing with the carcases. I really missed cleaning them out this morning and I’ll replace them soon. I don’t blame the fox. It was following what comes naturally. It is me who was to blame.
Despite these traumas I really would recommend chicken keeping to everyone. We only have a small garden. Although the initial outlay is big the upkeep of the hens is minimal and I absolutely love giving out eggs to friends and family. It’s a small step towards a better way of life. I love knowing my hens are well treated and we are not contributing towards the hen farming industry – watching hens scratching around in the dirt it is clear to see that hens don’t belong cooped up in small barns with thousands of other chickens, losing their feathers through stress and lack of space. So my adventures with chicken keeping must continue!