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The Joy Of Keeping Backyard Chickens

May 13, 2008
If you're one of those lucky people who grew up with chickens in your backyard, you'll know what I'm talking about. There are so many advantages to keeping chickens, that I'm surprised more people today do not see chickens as a suitable addition to their backyard.

Growing up on a farm in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, my family had the extra advantage of lots of room for our many pets. The sheep, cows, goats and our lovely flock of colourful chickens had acres of room in the scrub behind our home. My three sisters and I shared the responsibility of 'unlocking' the chooks each morning, delivering the household scraps and collecting the eggs.

As the chickens had the freedom to rummage in the hay shed, which was located very near their own special shed, we often found secluded nests in amongst the large round bales of hay. There came a point when we really couldn't find enough eggs each day to match the number of chickens. Convinced that there must be a 'super' nest hiding somewhere in the hay shed, we searched high and low with our torches until we spotted a missing chicken, delivering her daily egg to a rather large pile of eggs right at the back of the shed. As there was only room for a chicken to get into this small area behind several round bales, which were far to heavy for us to move, we had to come up with a way of collecting these eggs. Childhood ingenuity led to the collection of an old broomstick, a soup ladle and masking tape. With the ladle taped to the end of the broomstick, we were able to use this extended arm to 'go-go-gadget' the eggs from their hidden location. What memories!

While I no longer live on this farm, my husband and I do have acres of scrub ourselves at our home in Cockatoo Valley, South Australia. Soon after we moved in to our newly built home, we decided to erect a shed for a couple of chickens. As we had both grown up with pet chickens, I think we both assumed we'd get our own. As far as pets go, chickens would have to be the most affordable, low maintenance choice around. We picked up both a black and a white chook from our local chook breeder, a bag or two of feed and we were away. While it took our new 'family members' a little while to get used to their new living conditions, they soon started laying. We were like children again when we found the first eggs, frying them up straight away. We were so proud, you'd think we had laid them ourselves!

While I could spell out all the advantages of chickens from a cost perspective (compared to buying eggs) and the benefits to your garden (via the fertilizer), there is something else perhaps less tangible that makes keeping chickens such a 'joy'. Perhaps it's feeling a little more in touch with nature. Or perhaps it's the joy of watching our son pat his pet chickens and carefully collecting the eggs (with a few accidents along the way).

If you've always wondered if you should take the step of getting chickens, I would thoroughly recommend it. I don't know anyone that has regretted getting chickens. Most people talk about it, but never get around to actually to organizing it. Even if you don't have a very large backyard, it's likely to be enough room for at least 2 chickens.

As I finish writing this article I'm admiring one of our pet chickens named 'Opal' who has come to sit on my office windowsill. With her feathers all fluffed up, she sits contentedly watching me write. What a joy she is.
About the Author
Kerry Mundt, her husband Brad and son Aiden live in Cockatoo Valley South Australia. Brad is responsible for the design and manufacture of 'Royal Rooster' mobile chicken coops - an attractive chicken housing solution for your backyard. (http://www.RoyalRooster.com.au).
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