Let’s Talk Chickens. And Why You Need Them.
If you are like me, there is a high likelihood that you enjoy being lazy sometimes. I thoroughly savor the weekends when I get to sleep in… sometimes, even until 6:30 am (whoop whoop)! I enjoy the nights when we order in pizza instead of cooking. Why? Because we all work damn hard! I do; you do; we all do. Seriously, just take a moment to think about everything you do: work, errands, gardening, family life, chores, cooking… it’s a miracle we actually stay (somewhat) on top of it all.
Guess what… You deserve a break! So, I’m going to share my numero uno “Lazy Homesteading Secret”: Every Lazy Gardener Needs Chickens!
Garden Prep: My chickens do way more work in the garden than I ever do! I use a “no till” garden method, meaning that I don’t disturb the naturally-occuring layers of oxygen, fungi and micro-organisms in my garden soil. I never till my garden…but my chickens do! The light scratching that chickens perform doesn’t disturb deeper layers of soil or destroy the naturally-occuring soil balance like traditional tilling does. Over the winter, I put a temporary fence around our garden area and I let the chickens go to work. When spring planting time comes, my garden soil is prepped and ready, thanks the the chickens.
Reduce Food Waste: Chickens can eat a highly diverse plant-based diet. Which reduces the amount of food scraps that would normally go to waste or just sit in your compost pile waiting to be broken down. Which brings me to my next point….
Break Down Compost Faster: Put chickens to work in your compost pile! Having a “chicken safe” compost pile right beside my chicken coop is the laziest, most genius thing I’ve ever done! I let the chickens out to play in the compost pile daily. Thanks to their scratching and pecking, the pile breaks down so much faster than a traditional compost pile! Plus, the compost is enriched with naturally high-in-nitrogen fertilizer (chicken poo!). Chicken manure is also a great way to heat up the compost pile and help speed up the composting process!
Organic Fertilizer: Chicken poop is a glorious thing for the lazy gardener. It’s actually higher in nitrogen and phosphorus than cow manure. It will need some time to cure so that it does’t burn plants, but it can be easily added to compost piles along with bedding materials like straw and shavings. The high carbon levels in straw and shavings will balance out the high nitrogen levels in the manure. I let my chickens roam the garden area freely over the winter and we also spread their poo-soiled bedding over the garden area during the winter. We remove the chickens from the garden a couple months before planting season to give the manure time to cool. Voila! Free, high quality, organic fertilizer without the work!
Organic Pest Control: I think that pests would have to be the number one enemy of the lazy gardener! Pest control is a pain…. unless you have chickens! Chickens will eat tons of different insects and bugs that live in and around the garden (hello, free chicken food!). I seriously don’t know how we managed all the pillbugs (roly poly bugs) before we had chickens… well, actually we didn’t manage them because I’m a lazy gardener! Chickens also do a great job of cleaning up after other animals (horses, goats, cows, etc) that often scatter grain and feed when they eat. By letting the chickens clean up after the other animals, it will help prevent mice and rats from living in the barn and enjoying free meals.
Fresh Eggs Every Day: I don’t think I can describe how beautiful it is that I never have to run to the store because we’ve run out of eggs. The lazy, hangry girl inside of me rejoices every Saturday morning when I can make breakfast without being concerned about a trip to the market. And the best part is that I know exactly what the chickens have been fed and that they were raised in a healthy, free-range environment. You can taste the difference!
Free Entertainment: I never thought I would become that person…but I am. I am a crazy chicken lady. I don’t know how or when it happened, but those little birds somehow got to my heart. Each of our chickens has a different personality and temperament. They all have little quirks and do funny things that make them positively endearing! So, if I’m feeling particularly lazy, I will just sit and watch my chickens do their thing. Sad, right? But, if you have chickens, you’ll understand.
So, relax! Kick your feet up, watch your chickens do all the hard work, and reap the benefits!