We've had our chickens for about eight months, now - and they have become something of a neighbourhood sensation. People go out of their way to check in on the chooks - joggers, dog walkers, people with little kids all stop by the coop to have a look. Great fun for us - and the eggs are good, too.
This is Cleo, one of our Rhode Island Reds, trying to eat my camera:
I should add, the chickens aren't smelly, or noisy - the noise comes from the roosters, which are forbidden by local by-laws. Instead, our girls just cluck quite endearingly. The pen is built to be rodent-proof, as well as racoon, skunk, coyote and raptor-proof.
Our chickens are definitely spoiled Kitisilano mavens, with a fancy house and a big, secure run. I'm surprised we haven't been serving them cappucinos on the roost before breakfast! Their house is an ample 5x8 feet, with two nesting boxes and the roost, as well as space for food, water and both their grit (to aid their digestion) and oyster shells (to help them make strong egg shells). We scatter a thick layer of straw and sawdust on the floor, which they love scratching in. (More on the benefits of the straw in our next post).
In the outdoor run, they have another set of food and water containers, and lots of space to scratch and roll in the dust. The cost for food and supplies is about $12/month - and in return the chickens each lay an egg a day, most days. Below, the brown eggs are from the Rhode Island Reds, and the blue ones are from the Araucanas (a South American breed). No, the chickens didn't lay the potatoes, too!
But beyond the eggs, the bigger benefit is the way the chickens fit into the broader ecology of our mini-farm. Our next post will tell you all about it!