Monday 18 April 2011
To chicken or not to chicken...
Despite our best intentions the weekend wasn't as productive on the allotment as we'd hoped. We were having my family round on Saturday night so spent most of the day tidying the house, doing some jobs in the garden and popping to the shop to get some sparkly new BBQ equipment leaving Sunday as plot day, or so we thought.
However, waking up on Sunday morning I could feel a blocked nose and sore throat had manifested themselves overnight and the familiar achiness in my limbs confirmed I was in the grip of a cold. So, Sunday ended up being a bit of a sofa and box of tissues day which was a pain, although I did pot up the last few unwanted tomato plants that I'd not quite had the heart to throw away as someone at M's work had decided she wanted them (and I was too much of a perfectionist to let her have them pot bound and half dead in their little seed modules).
Yesterday wasn't an entire waste however as it let me give some serious thought to a new project we've been circling around for a while. Ever since we started growing our own and getting interested in the world of self-sufficiency the one thing we've always wanted to do was have our own chickens. Not only does the idea of daily fresh eggs sound great but everyone we've spoken to about it says they're such fun to keep as well.
So what’s stopped us from taking the plunge you may be wondering? We'll there's two things really. First, and most significantly, is the worry that our garden isn't really ideal for chickens to live in. It's not so much a space thing, although we don't have a large garden by any stretch of the imagination, it's more that we'd not really be in a position to let them roam free at any point. We've got two cats, as have next door, and I struggle to imagine just how they'd all get on if the chickens were let out to wander the garden. It'd also be hard to stop them from fluttering over (or under) the pretty poor fence between us and next door (how high a fence do you need to keep chickens contained?) and I'd not want to annoy the neighbours too much by having to keep rescuing them.
Most of the coups I've seen for sale come with a built in run area and claim to be of suitable size to house three birds but they just seem so small, I'd worry our chickens wouldn't be very happy being kept in there all the time. Some companies offer additional run segments which may help but I still need convincing that the chickens would be happy in that kind of setup all the time.
Secondly there's the age old problem of price, I totalled up everything we'd need (coup, run, feeders, consumables, birds etc.) and it seemed to be pretty much about £500 to get up and running. Not an insurmountable amount given a few months of saving (although my damn car spectacularly failing its MOT last week has dented any possible chicken money for the moment) but not one I'd want to lay out only to find that the chickens aren't happy, which brings us back to what I was saying before...
I wonder if anyone out there can offer some advice...?