Some times I think that we have some of the most spoiled chickens in the world. They freely roam the entire back yard and garden, except for the pieces of garden I fence them out of. They make messes on the patio and they dig up Tina’s flowers. On the plus side they are excellent pest control. There are no grasshoppers or grubs in my yard. I have only seen one tomato horn worm. We showed it to a chicken and it was gone. I haven’t seen one since. The summer before we got our first chickens, our yard and house were covered with grasshoppers. The grasshoppers were eating everything. They were even eating the salvia. When we got chickens, Tina would take them outside with her as she weeded. They quickly got into the groove of what to eat. Bugs, grubs, worms, ant and grasshoppers had finally met their match. A lightening flash of beak and snicker snack, no more bug.
Another plus is having fresh eggs. My first time of eating fresh eggs from free range chickens was quite different. The yolk was a dark yellow, almost orange color. The surprising thing was that the egg actually had flavor. So this is what an egg is suppose to taste like. I had thought eggs were just a rubbery vehicle for ketchup or salsa.
On a good day we get about 12 eggs. Our little flock has Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, a Black Australorp and a few Easter Egg chickens (aka Americana).
The rule from the beginning has been that we don’t name the chickens because they may become dinner some day. For the most part that rule has held. There are two exceptions, Blackie and Big Red. Blackie is the lone Black Autralorp. She survived harvest day 2006 by being faster and more cautious than all of the other chickens. Big Red is just that. The biggest and baddest of the Rhode Island Reds.
I think that I will always keep chickens. A flock of four hens would work in anybodys backyard. Learn to raise your own chickens at BackYardChickens.com