DIGGING FOR BUGS
The menagerie of animals that live here on the urban homestead provides us with countless hours of entertainment and free "therapy" - bringing smiles to our sometimes stressed brows.
Here's Lucie (aka Lucie Goosey) digging her way to China (well, grubs or bugs more likely)
Estella, seeing Lucie's hole is bigger, stops her digging and comes over to it out
One of the ducks wants in on the action
Did you find anything?
Sheesh, just look at that soil - it's next year's garden (two times a year we scoop up the black gold and it goes to our 50 plus raised beds and umpteen self watering containers)
Our chickens, ducks and goats play a vital role here at the urban homestead. They are soil builders!
We got our chickens back in 2002 and they've been an integral part of the urban homestead ever since. The following years we added rabbits, ducks and goats to the menagerie (oh, and not to mention a few thousand feral bees and worms to the mix).
Speaking of chickens, here's an article that sheds a somewhat interesting light on the recent chicken craze. Although we don't particularly agree with all that she says, we have the same concerns over this latest fad. When it comes to the countenance of an animal, we believe animals are a product of their environment; however, when those on the "trendmill" wind up with more than they bargained for, we agree.
Here at LTITC we've been saying something similar for some time. Having a barnyard in your backyard ties to you to the land - meaning less vacations, less spur of the moment "let's leave for the weekend" or staying out too late and forgetting to lock the girls in. Countless times, we've heard tales of of mass slaughter because of this neglect.
Besides dealing with the waste issue (which is a blessing for us urban farmers-- we've stepped in enough chicken crap; believe me, it's part of the life), here, in the city, it's a matter of dealing and caring for your animals when they get sick.
We, too, like the article states, don't want chickens, ducks, rabbits and,now, goats to go the way of the dalmatian or pot belly pig when hundreds. if not thousands, were dumped onto local shelters.
What we like to tell folks- before they run out and get a few cute chicks or kids - is do your research first. No, seriously, you wouldn't believe how many times we've heard from people who ran out to buy chicks and then call us asking "what do we do now!" Asking them questions, we find out they have no brooder, no waterer, no mash - nothing- just the chicks. "Oh dear," we think to ourselves and hope that these chickens have a chance and not end up dead or disowned.
You are not just going to be a chicken or goat haver but a keeper; and a keeper's job comes with a slew of advantages and disadvantages. Too often articles just focus on the lighter side of these urban homesteading trends but really don't get down the nitty gritty of what it's actually like.
Unlike dogs or cats, when chickens get sick, you may not be able to rush them to the vet so you will have to have the know how and have the courage to treat sick, injured animals. Read up on what could go wrong even if there's nothing wrong with your animals. Because, sometimes, there's a brief window to help your animal when it gets sick and you don't want to be running to the internet or bookshelf at such a critical time.
Get to know your animals and if you sense something is off with one of them - then look into it asap. Don't wait or brush it off. A good time to "get to know your animals" is at feeding times. Note routine or behavioral changes. Look for animals that are standing off to themselves, not eating or drinking. This is a good sign to tell you that the animal is not well. Make this a habit and you won't believe how your senses will be trained and honed. Senses that are in this modern world dulled into numbness.
So, if you don't mind the good and bad that comes with raising chickens (or any animals/insect for that matter) in the city, and know what you are getting into, then get a few chickens because they are worth it. Not only do they provide you with amazing eggs, hours of entertainment and great fertilizer but they also teach us to be responsible stewards of not only the earth but the creatures that inhabit this great green planet of ours.
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