Life Begins in the Garden: Backyard Chickens

Spring is just around the corner, but with the threat of cold weather and heavy frosts still lurking I must keep myself from planting anything in the garden too early. So, I daydream about new garden beds and brouse seed catalogs while sipping a glass of wine at the kitchen table. And I think of other ways to be more self reliant, environmentally conscious, and frugal. My parents always kept chickens and I have as well, for most of my adult like. I moved to Oregon several years ago and gave the chickens away that I had. One of my goals after moving back to Pennsylvania  two years ago, was to get them again. After showing my boyfriend the figures of how much I could save just on eggs and convincing him the porch wouldn’t be covered in chicken poop, he finally agreed. I found a small coop on sale at the local farm supply store for under $100. This past week I got our first two hens, year old New Hampshire reds, from a local Amish farm for $5 a piece. This coming week, a friend of a friend is bringing me a rare Carolina Blue rooster, who’s offspring will lay blue and green eggs. He is a bit more pricey at $12 but she is also bringing a blue egg laying hen as a gift! After much thought, and one more trip to the farm store I also purchased two ducklings for $2 a piece. They are Khaki Campbells, good egg layers when they grow up and the cutest things I have ever seen swimming in the bathtub. So now, I will have four egg laying birds once the ducklings start laying, on our 1 acre of land.

They will eat most of our table scraps so the garbage won’t stink or temp the dog. I will have fertilizer for the garden after I mix it with some compost. And, after calculating the cost of supplies and food, we will save over $6,500 over the next five years on eggs alone. If they hatch young or we have excess fertile eggs, we can sell them to offset the price of food! Well worth the wait, I say.

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