04 September, 2009

The Chicken Coop and the bungalow garden

While researching Arts and Crafts style gardens I learned that a part of the yard was set aside for a family vegetable garden,herb garden, berry patch, orchard and chicken coop.

I love birds and had always wanted chickens so after checking with our local authorities my clever husband built me a beautiful coop. We have 20 hens,one rooster named Prissy and 3 Guinea hens. We get about 1 doz eggs a day and my 10 year old son sells our extras to the neighbors for pocket money. We use the chicken poop to fertilize the garden and I must say our tomato crop this year was overwhelming. I am slowly setting up the garden as a series of raised beds. I figure I can do two new ones every year. We already have 3 done so I have one more to do this year. One is our blueberry/herb garden, one is for tomatoes and okra and I used the third one for pepper, squash, eggplant and cucumbers this year. I plan to put in cold weather lettuce, cabbage, kale and collards soon to replace the summer veggies. We have to put up netting to keep the hens out but they sure take care of the bugs. The house came with two mature apple trees, one peach, one pear, and two mulberries. I planted a cherry tree this year so we should have cherries in about 5 years. I estimate that in the summer we manage to produce between 25 and 40 percent of the food we eat. With the economy the way it has been the garden has been a real help this year and its a great family activity. The chickens require some work, about 20 minutes a days and a couple of hours every 2 months to clean the coop but all in all its a great hobby and once you have fresh eggs you really can't eat store bought eggs. I like the feeling of self sufficient and knowing what my kids are eating. I am lucky that both my neighbors are practically deaf though because a rooster does make some noise. If you do plan on doing the chicken thing not having a rooster might be a good idea. The guineas I got just for fun and because they look pretty(except for their faces, don't look at their faces) but they are a lot harder to handle than the chickens. For one they can fly. I had to chase them back home with an umbrella at 6:00 in the morning down the main street in our town about a week ago. Something had frightened them and they flew out of their pen. They also have an un-natural attraction to Prissy the rooster and they cannot stand it when he is out of their sight, they honk until they know where he is. Strange birds those guineas! Well that's my Bungalow garden.

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