I have hens on the brain at the moment.
I am very seriously considering some for the back garden!
This has been an idea at the back of my mind since we moved into the house, as the garden is such a good size, there’s plenty of room for a small coop and three or four chickens. And although I’ve been resisting the thought (just a fad! too dirty! you’ll get fed up!) I keep coming back to it again and again, lurking on chicken keeping forums, searching Gumtree for second-hand coops… I can’t seem to shake the idea and am becoming more and more sure that it’s something I’d like to try and think I’d enjoy.
I’m still weighing up the pros and cons – with any new venture I really do like to wrap my brain around it and try to imagine what doing that thing will be like, how it will affect my daily life, routines, the rest of the family etc. Here’s the list:
- Eggs! Lots of them, I hope! I’d give any excess to family and friends – or maybe have an honesty box at the front of the house.
- Company in the garden – I’d like to let them free-range sometimes, and like the thought of them pecking about (and hopefully eating all the slugs!) while I’m pottering about.
- Pets – we don’t have any (apart from 5 guppies!) and I like the idea of caring for an animal and that it would (hopefully) enhance our family life and engage the kids with other living creatures. The girls seem keen – they say they’d help out and I’d like to think they’d enjoy feeding the birds, handling them etc, even if they would almost certainly be unwilling to clean up bird poo!
- The aforementioned poo is good fertiliser – goes on the compost heap and enriches the garden at a later date. So, although poo is really a ‘con’, it’s also a ‘pro’.
- The free-ranging might mean damage to the garden – and would definitely mean poo on the grass, which would need to be removed before the girls would play outside. (This could possibly be limited by fencing off a free-range area)
- The poo (see above!)
- Rats – I fear the idea of encouraging these into the garden, however I’m aware there are ways to prevent them and obviously there are ways to get rid of them.
- Time commitment – this seems fairly minimal, compared to a dog for example, but I would need to spend time feeding and cleaning them, and perhaps be up and about to let them out fairly early in the mornings, especially in the summer months. My ‘spare’ time is already precious – do I want to give up a little more of it? Am I prepared to tweak my daily routine to care properly for these birds?
As you can see, I’m putting a lot of thought into it – too much, perhaps! But I need to be sure before I take the plunge. At the moment I’m keen to proceed, and keep waiting to find out something which would put me off, but it hasn’t happened yet. So, I’m back on Gumtree looking out for the elusive bargain starter chicken coop…I’ll keep you posted!