Fowl in the Garden

One way to eliminate insects and insect larvae is by having poultry in your yard. In the United Kingdom it is very popular to have fowl in the garden. One interesting structure for the garden is the chicken coop. Some of them are quite attractive. Google up English Chicken coops and hit the Images button to see some creative designs for chicken coops.  Here in the US, gardeners who have a large enough space are now also adding chicken coops to their gardens. Not only do chickens eat ticks and other insects but they can really be another  interesting element in your garden. If you pet and play with the chicks from an early age, they can become like pets.  A cousin in Maine had some chickens that their daughter always played with so they became friendly. These chickens laid Easter egg colored eggs. And because the chickens ate ticks, the property was free of the pests.

TheGardenLady was raised with fowl on her parents’ farm. I loved when we got the baby chicks each spring. Nothing is cuter than a baby chick. However I found that more friendly than chickens are ducks. Ducks do what is called imprinting on the person who plays with them. Ducks really make loyal pets. Read this to learn about what it means when ducks imprint. And watch this video to see how cute a duck can be.

 If I had room on my property to have a place for poultry to roost and overwinter, I would absolutely buy some poultry for my yard. Of course, I would also check with the city where I live to see if it is legal to have fowl.
When I was in Scotland, one garden I visited had what are called Runner Ducks. I had never seen this comical type of duck before. Watch this.

To check out the different types of chickens and ducks available go online or look at this or read this.

Raising chickens in your backyard

Our Chicken Coop by furtwangl

A very popular trend today is raising chickens in one’s back yard. Lots of people like the idea of having chickens in the yard because they eat insects and can help rid the lawn of ticks. When you raise just a few chickens, they can become pets. And think of the wonderful fresh eggs one gets from the hens. Some of the chickens even hatch Easter egg colored eggs.

When I was a child, every spring my parents would get a big box of baby chicks from the chicken hatchery. I loved the fluffy yellow babies that chirped in the box- we kept them in the house for warmth; but once the chicks started shedding their yellow down and started getting feathers, I must confess to losing interest in playing with them. Not all the animals on the farm are considered playthings. But a cousin who raises a few chicks on her property in Maine says her chickens have grown up and are family pets.

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Chickens for the Garden

George the Brahma cockerel in front of the chicken shed by hardworkinghippy
George the Brahma cockerel in front of the chicken shed by hardworkinghippy

With the prevalence of the Lyme tick or any tick, I often wished I had some chickens in my yard. Chickens peck about in the grass for insects. I thought how darling they would look in my yard- a return to nature and a decoration for the yard as well as their cleaning the yard of bad insects. But it was just one of many dreams I have. I didn’t know if my township allowed chickens.

Then I attended a conference in Arkansas and heard P. Allen Smith give a talk about gardens. He said that in England famous gardeners always had chickens in their gardens. These chickens were housed in fancy chicken coops as added interest to the garden. So when P.Allen Smith built his summer home, he created a chicken coop that I think was built like a Greek Revival miniature house. It was charming. Again I wished…..

chicken garden by DrSlippers2007
chicken garden by DrSlippers2007

Later when a friend said she was putting in a few chickens in her garden, I was really envious. She wasn’t sure if her area allowed chickens, but the neighbors didn’t object so she bought them. She bought a funky brilliantly colored chicken coop that made me think of a tent. The chickens seemed to be backpacker chickens.

Then, in the September 28, 2009 issue of the New Yorker, there was an article about chickens being the newest craze. The article is “The It Bird – The return of the back-yard chicken” by Susan Orlean. This fun to read article talks about all the “online chicken groups and websites- such as Chickens 101, Housechicken, Yardpoultry, My Pet Chicken” etc. plus a forum.

She writes that speaks of raising chickens in the back yard as being the new movement in North America with many magazines on chickens now available and guides that will advise you on how to “chanllenge anti-chicken ordinances” in your town. Readers in Hawaii where roosters run rampant and others who read this post, be careful that you don’t bring in roosters that will crow and wake you and the neighborhood up too early. Apparently “there is a petition currently circulating urging the Obamas to add a chicken flock to the White House Garden.”

ThisGardenLady would love to see chickens in her back yard. But until the chickens learn to completely care for themselves- and that includes fending off the fox or coyote in the neighborhood, she will leave this pretty addition to seeing it in someone else’s garden.

If you decide to decorate your garden with chickens, where can you buy them and other fowl? You don’t have to buy the common types that I grew up with. In the United states you can now buy rare-breed poultry at McMurray Hatchery that bills itself as the largest rare  – breed poultry hatchery in the world.

TheGardenLady’s Childhood Experience with Chickens

garden by theshutdoor
garden by theshutdoor

When I was a child, as I told early readers of this blog, my parents had a small farm. They had bought it just before the depression. My father, a romanticist, always dreamed of being a farmer. It was a small farm and the primary reason for its being was to raise produce. But we had two horses to plow the fields and pull the wagon. We had goats. We had two cows so that with all the milk my mother decided to make a small dairy business out of it. Besides the milk, she sold heavy and light cream, sour cream and her delicious homemade cottage cheese. We had pet ducks and of course, we had chickens.

We raised the chickens for ourselves; either Rhode Island Reds or White Leghorn chickens. We ate eggs almost daily and, I am sorry to tell you, we ate the chickens when they were too old to lay eggs or we needed food. After all, the depression hit and everyone needed to eat. But we did not raise chickens as a business.

Baby chickens hatched out:-) by ♥ Lala ♥
Baby chickens hatched out:-) by ♥ Lala ♥

Every spring my mother would get a huge carton of darling, cuddly yellow chicks. I loved it when they brought the chicks into the house for warmth. I would play with them. Today I guess you would say I bonded with the chicks. But when they grew real feathers, they went out to the chicken coop and the friendship ended. Still I have never enjoyed eating chicken, I guess because of my bonding.

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