The Girls and boy! Tracey, Agnes, Waddles, Sunie (the boy) and Quack. Sunie was supposed to be a girl, but you win some, you lose some. He sure takes very good care of “his lady”. But he won’t be laying any eggs 😦
My adventures in pioneering continue. Or it could simply be backyard farming, but it feels like pioneering, that and the baking (from my previous post).
When we started using Almond and Coconut flours, we started going through a ton of eggs. Like 4 dozen a week, so we thought “hey!!!! Let’s get chickens….and ducks…”and it all sounds wonderful and it is wonderful. And it will be highly rewarding when the eggs start to come, but there is some major poop involved.
I wish I wasn’t so much of the squeamish, screaming type. Maybe farming life is more suited to the sturdy, stoic kind of person. But I believe in “fake it till you make it”. So, I have chickens and ducks. Every once in awhile you may hear me scream “Jason, $%&+, the chickens are on the FENCE” and see me run screaming around in breathless bursts. On the other days, I am getting to be more of a farmer, at least on the inside, everyday.
I have developed some pretty solid rules that could be helpful to some of you urban farmers. Learn from my mistakes, if you will.
1) Don’t get dressed in your “let’s go into town” clothes until after your farming chores are done.
2) IF you ignore rule #1 be sure that you have done enough laundry to have a second “going into town” outfit.
3) IF you ignore rules #1 and #2, think of me and remember that I told you so.
Just trust me on this.
We decided to jump in with both feet on the bird thing, because we just want eggs that come from birds that are fed well and are treated well, that have room to roam and can have minimal stress. Actually, it’s probably the ducks and chickens who live the best lives around here. We are working on the rest of us. So, we do some things that may be a little difficult. Our end game isn’t “easy”(my sister just said that to me the other day), our goal is “healthy” for mind, body, spirit and soul. We have a ways to go, but it’s worth the effort.
We have a store bought coop, we got carried away, but we are happy with it. Super easy to clean (a MUST for me, I am not climbing in any tight coop to clean it out) and it’s easyish to move and collect the eggs…provided they know where they are supposed to lay them.
We also have a “chicken tractor” that is framed with PVC pipe and covered with chicken wire. My husband made that. We can move the birds from the bedtime coop to the tractor that can be placed anywhere in the yard. For the last week or so, we have abandoned the tractor in favor of total free range girls (and boy). Mostly because the dog is scared of the ducks, so she can go out with them unleashed. When the weather starts to cool down, we will move them everyday back and forth again. I don’t know why it has to with weather, don’t ask.
They are eating lots of yummy bugs and plants and slugs and keeping the grass at a reasonable length and aside from the necessity to always wear shoes in the back yard, it is really going well.
We feed them a Grower called Scratch And Peck Feeds, it is organic and non gmo and also soy free and grown and milled in the PNW on a sustainable farm. Yes, it’s pricier than Purina feed, but we feel like it’s the most reasonable way to get the quality of eggs we are after. In a bit we will switch to the Layer version of the feed and hopefully we will get a great harvest of eggs until the dead of winter.
Someday when we have more chickens I would love to be able to sell high quality eggs to people for a fair, sustainable price so that more people can benefit from healthy eggs. For now, we are limited by the city as to how many we can have and we’ll do what we can with what we’ve got.
Not all of us appreciate the flavor of duck eggs, so we plan on using them mostly for baking. I am happy with that, considering grain free cookies require 4-5 eggs a batch. Quack’s eggs will be greatly appreciated that way.
Overall, the chickens have been easier just because they are not as messy. Those ducks make more mess with water and poo than I could have imagined, but they make up for it with their hilarious antics and slug eating capabilities. You may find us sitting out with them just watching and giggling. If we had more space, say a dedicated yard, and I didn’t have to share with the ducks it would probably be a wash.
We are making our way one bitty step at a time to a more sustainable and freer lifestyle, with eight little girls and one little boy waddling after.