As I write this, we are set for a truly gorgeous impending Saturday. I’m planning on spending it knelt on a knee pad, digging in some colourful flower beds to our currently very sad looking flowerless garden.
When we bought this house in February, we were super gung-ho about the changes we wanted to make and the lifestyle we wanted to live (as I imagine most first time buyers are). After some plaster work, we are finally painting and the furniture is filtering in as and how we find the pieces we’re after. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect non-velvet indigo armchair though if anyone has any pointers?!
The changes so far are as we planned them, intentional and in tune with how we want to live. We’ve talked forever and a day about keeping both chickens and bees. The bees are a topic for a later date as I think we’ll require a bit more investigation and knowledge before making that leap (not to mention the fact that Ethan is currently terrified of them). But now that the last of the frost has (hopefully!) past, we’ve been debating the timing for investing in some hens.
Being 6 months pregnant, this has sparked a “before or after baby?” question. It’s one that Gavin and I are still trying to nut out. If we get them before, I imagine they’ll just become part of the family routine, but I feel like if we wait until after, we’ll end up delaying the investment until next spring… If we do it at all!
Therein lies the problem. It’s all very romantic and well-meaning to fantasise about harvesting your own eggs, but some serious research has lead me to the following pros and cons lists.
- Big smacking obvious one – all the eggs. We eat quite a few eggs. I find myself buying a box of 15 free-range eggs each week if not more. Reason being, Gavin takes hard boiled eggs to work as snacks, I like two eggs on toast a couple of times a week and then once a week I reduce our food waste by making a big ‘anything goes’ frittata, not to mention our weekly batch of buckwheat pancakes and any other baking I eventually do. So yes, we would benefit from having eggs on tap.
- Entertaining and educating the kiddos. Whilst I’m not one for a house pet, I do realise that kids get all sorts of benefits from interacting with and caring for live animals.
- Hens are an excellent way of keeping garden pests at bay, providing awesome fertiliser for plants and eating certain food scraps, contributing to our little hippy household ecosystem.
- One of the reasons I’ve never owned a pet before is because I do not take the responsibility of looking after a beautiful little animal lightly. I know that there’s daily work involved and that they’ll need to be looked after when we go on trips.
- Apparently hens brutally murder your garden. I like the idea of buying a decent run for them but letting them roam on the 4 days a week that I’m at home to keep an eye on them. However, our garden plans also involve investing in growing a lawn, veggies, fruits and flowering plants, all of which hens love to get their pecking beaks into. So if we go for it, we’ll need to find a way of giving them space to roam, but containing them enough to mitigate the damage.
- Foxes. We have tons that roam these parts, being semi-rural. And we have friends who returned from a night away, entered the house via the back garden, kids first and were greeted by a chicken massacre. Their poor 6 year old daughter was crying for days. Other hen keeping acquaintances have informed me that losing a hen or two is an inevitability, but that fox deterrents are getting better.
- In my life, I’ve handled many a mammal, a tarantula and quite a few snakes (keep your jokes to yourself), but I have never actually held a bird. And to be honest, the thought of it kinda weirds me out. Flapping feathers and all. But keeping chickens and keeping them healthy means bird handling, wing clipping and checking for mites, so if we take the plunge I’ll need to get used to the idea real quick.
So have any of you ever entertained the idea of keeping hens?
Or are you a seasoned hen keeper and have any pro tips for me?