Your inspiration of raising chickens:
My chicken story – I had always wanted to have a flock of chickens but my family was not too excited about the idea. Finally after a few years of begging, they gave me the green light. I devoured every book I could find on the subject and took the baby chick plunge, ordering my first batch in 2006. I’m on my second batch now and no longer keep ducks. It was so much fun that I started being asked to teach my neighbors and before I knew it, I was teaching classes on backyard chickens.
Pros of having chickens:
The pros to having chickens are so many. They are fun to watch and have around. We get great eggs and have things to trade with neighbors.
Cons of having chickens:
The biggest con to having chickens is needing someone to care for them when I go out of town. I didn’t build a predator proof run, so they have to be locked up at night and let out in the morning. They can also be destructive of veggie and flower beds if you let them roam.
More about my Homestead:
We started out with a portable coop so I could try it out in several places in the yard and get a sense of what I wanted in a coop. It sat on 4 stumps and was about 4 x 4. Since then we built a permanent coop that is about 7 x 7 using natural building techniques – wooden shipping pallet walls stuffed with straw and plastered with mud plaster on a concrete footing and a regular roof. We built a skylight into one side of the roof for light and an egg box into one wall.
We don’t heat our coop or provide extra light. I did run a heat lamp out for a night or two last winter when it was 20 below. I use the deep litter method and have come to prefer straw as bedding over wood chips or sawdust. It breaks down much faster in the compost pile.
I harvest about 2-3 liters of honey per year, typically in the Spring. I started keeping bees in 2006 and studied through the Boulder County Beekeepers and with Corwin Bell at Backyard Hive. We began teaching organic beekeeping together soon afterwards. I have had no issues with predators. I work my bees for a few hours about every few months. The biggest amount of work is processing the honey and wax which takes me several weeks.
My house and yard is a permaculture demonstration site and will be on the Center for Resource Conservation’s Tour of Sustainable Homes in October. I teach permaculture throughout Colorado and use my home as a place of practice and experimentation.