Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
I have the answer to the age old question
, and it’s the chicken.
Through a Master Gardening project, I met a friend who started raising chickens this Spring. The project was working with Cargill employees to raise food to donate to non-profit agencies. Yes, it’s super cool that the two gardens and over a hundred volunteers grew and donated over 825 pounds of food for those in need, but let’s talk chickens.
Someday I want to have a few egg chickens roaming my yard. However
, it can’t happen now in my tiny lot in the suburb which I live. But my friend, she lives in the country. She’s raising 23 chickens and has a 100 square foot coop that’s set up as a moveable tractor. The chickens are free range, but are gathered up at night to safeguard them from fox, eagles and coyotes.
She says they all have personalities and has named several. I’m amazed at how the cute little fluffy chicks turn into fun looking egg layers. The two pictured here are called The Chipmunk and Bu (Bu is the first one).
It looks like her flock is a mixed group so there should be several different kind colors of eggs. Right now, they are a little over three-months-old, and they should start laying eggs in 2-3 weeks. I can’t wait. I’m going to be one of her new customers.
So for now it’s the
chickens. Then it’s the eggs.
Do you have a flock or a special friend with eggs in hand?
Share your story.
Everybody knows it's fun to see how the other half lives. And if the other half just happens to keep urban chickens, it's even more fun. You'll get that chance -- for free -- tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 12) at the Fall 2009 Twin Cities Parade of Chicken Coops!
Over 20 locations will be open from 10 - 4 in and around the Twin Cities so tour-goers can meet the flocks, check out coop designs and get all manner of chicken questions answered. Organizers of the tour have put together an interactive map, so visitors can make their own route.
Al Bourgeois, who has a chicken coop building business and teaches classes on urban chickens at Seward Coop and the Wedge Coop, said this is the second tour this year.
"I put this one together because so many chicken keeper have great gardens too. In April, there is not much to look at in the garden."
Even if you're not considering keeping chickens, it might be just the ticket to avoid traffic downtown on a fall afternoon!
By Robyn Dochterman
Things are getting interesting around the "farmette" this time of year. Veggies I planted in little containers when the March wind was still blowing are happily producing with enough predictability, I could get a tad smug. But I won't, because while I can grow veggies, I apparently cannot grow hens.
Hens lay eggs. The more hens you have, hypothetically, the more eggs you'll be able to collect. That's what I was thinking this spring when I fired up the incubator and hatched some eggs. Then things got out of hand. We let a broody hen or two hatch her own eggs, and suddenly, there were several batches of little chicks running around for most of the summer.
One by one, those chicks, all lovingly hatched as potential egg-layers, have started to crow. Didn't I learn about probability in math class in school? Well, I must've failed. I think we're running about 80% males. In fact, the yard is positively crowded with roosters.
There's Mr. Mukluks, last year's rooster, who is still king. There's Corona (part of the Mexican beer-named hatch), who's regal and handsome and well, horny as can be. There's also Chloe (who we really wanted to be female). And the other day, we watched in horror as Lint chased one of the girls. What's worse, we've still got five chicks who haven't made their proclivities known yet. At this rate, we'll be lucky to have one or two be female.
As it creeps closer to fall, we're starting to think about reducing the size of our flock a bit. Obviously, we don't need a six-pack of roosters (heck, hens don't even need one rooster to lay eggs!).
Hey, anyone need a pretty rooster? Or two or three or....
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