Urban Homesteading Today

A Journey into Urban Homesteading Today

Keeping Chickens in the Garden

 

Keeping chickens in the garden is good for both the chickens and the garden, but you will need to plan your garden in relation to when, and where, the chickens will have access for the best results. For the chickens, being free to eat worms, grass and other foods they love and that are nutritious, makes for a healthier bird. For the garden, chickens help fertilize, til the soil, and remove pests. When put together so that both can get the optimum benefit from each other, you will have a healthy environment and good food as a result.

If you’re just starting out or have an area you want to change or improve, letting the chickens stay in that area for a bit can help clean it up, add fertilizer and break up the soil you have dug. How long you leave them in a spot will have to be determined by how many chickens you have and how large the area is. Never leave them for too long in one spot as it is not good for the hens. They will eat things they normally wouldn’t, even plants that are poisonous to them if they are hungry.

Whether you are allowing your hens to go anywhere in your backyard or only an area of it, you will need to plan where to plant your edible garden as chickens love chard, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage and kale, for example. You will want to protect your seedlings and young plants until they are large enough not to be bothered by your birds. Hens tend not to like violas, primrose, buttercups, tulips, daffodils, camellias, dahlias, hydrangeas, azaleas and most evergreen shrubs. They don’t tend to go after herbs such as mint, rosemary, or lemon balm. Neither will they bother other edibles like leeks, onions, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, squash or pumpkins. These are not all inclusive lists, rather just an idea of some plants and placement.

One reason to keep a patch of grass in your yard is that chickens love it, and they will happily eat that over something else you may not want them to. Just remember they are no different than we are in the fact that they have different likes and dislikes. These are general guidelines which your chickens may or may not fall in line with, but it does give you a starting point.

To protect the plants or areas that you do not want the chickens in, even temporarily, you can use portable fencing, low fencing using chicken wire, use a rough gravel or prickly, twiggy stick mulch around precious or fragile plants so the chickens won’t scratch there. You can also incorporate containers, hanging baskets and cloches to keep them out entirely. You will want to incorporate your chicken house plans with your over all plan for your yard.

Of course the larger the area you have where the chickens can roam free, the easier it is. If there is plenty of grassy area, (not necessarily lawn) your chickens will eat that, wild herbs and weeds for you while leaving their fertilizer and breaking up the soil. Make sure for your hens sake that there is an area of bare dirt for them to take a dust bath. This behavior helps them to clean their feathers and keep them parasite free.

Whether you’re raising chickens for eggs or meat, when chickens are free to roam and eat in an environment like this, they will be eating better nutritional foods, getting their proteins by eating your pests, and be healthier overall. This will help them to provide you will healthy eggs, and food from your garden. With proper care and planning, you will find that keeping chickens in the garden is not only beneficial to the hens and the garden, but your family as well.

For more information about how to keep chickens there is a very helpful and affordable ebook that can help you start eating eggs from your own backyard ASAP. Get info on Keeping Chickens in the Garden from a friend across the pond.

 

grow your own food


Raising Chickens For Eggs

There are many benefits to learning how to keep chickens on the urban homestead. Raising chickens for eggs is just one. A couple more benefits include keeping chickens in the garden; it is good for both the garden and the chickens. Raising chickens for food, both eggs and meat as a healthy alternative to the mass processed chicken and eggs found in large chain stores. Getting eggs produced from battery hens, which are used to provide for the grocery stores, has a higher risk of food born illness, as well as getting residual antibiotics in the meat and eggs.

Once you decide you’re going to be raising chickens for eggs, you should think about what you will need to do and how to start. This article is to give you ideas to help determine a general starting point. We will only be discussing the female birds, as a rooster is not necessary for egg production, only for fertilization if you want to hatch chicks.

One of the first things you will want to do is count the cost. No, not for feed or a coop, but what it costs you in time. Chickens require daily care. Not a bunch, but enough that you can’t leave them for a long time without feeding and watering, and protecting them from predators. Who will feed and water them if you go out of town? How will they be secured each night from predators? These are not necessarily deal breakers, but you should consider these things before you set up your chickens rather than after. There are some automated ways to take care of them as well as the possibility of having someone come and care for them, but it’s better to think ahead on this one, especially if you happen to be planning a month long trip to Europe.

Before getting any chicks, you will want to look at your local rules to find out you can have the birds, and if so, what limitations you might have to work with. Once you know you can legally keep chickens, determine how much space you have, and how many hens you will need to get the egg production you desire. You will want to think about chicken house plans that will work well in the space you have available.

There are various factors that go into how many eggs a chicken will lay and how often. You can generally figure that three hens should give you and average of two eggs per day. The age and breed of the hen will factor in to how often she lays. Young pullets typically start laying at about 4-6 months of age, and some hens will produce for years, some into their teens. While not the only productive breeds, Australorps, Leghorns, Orpingtons, and Rhode Island Reds tend to produce well. You will want to research breeds that also do best in your climate, if you want to have the simplest operation.

The time of year and temperature can affect a chickens laying capacity and regularity. Shorter days of winter can slow down a girl who normally produces an egg a day to one every other day. Cold temperatures can also slow down your hens ability to lay daily. Chickens also molt annually and do not lay during this time.

On the flip side, if all variables line up well, it is not unheard of for a hen to lay two healthy eggs in a day. Sometimes a hen will lay more, but they are not necessarily optimal, meaning they may have a soft shell, or even no shell. If you hen is laying two good eggs daily, that’s okay. If she is laying 3-4 and is overly producing, this is not good for the chicken, and you may want to decide to take appropriate action if the over production continues for any extended length of time.

Overall, you are in control of your egg production. You decide what breeds, how many hens, what they eat and when, how clean and healthy their environment is, and what to do if you have a sick bird. The better care you take of your animals, the better food source they will provide for you, making raising chickens for eggs beneficial both economically and physically.

For more information about how to keep chickens there is a very helpful and affordable ebook that can help you start eating eggs from your own backyard ASAP. Get info on Raising Chickens for Eggs

keeping chickens for eggs

Five Benefits of Solar Energy

The benefits of solar energy are many, but the five discussed here should give you an idea of why harvesting power from the sun for residential as well as commercial use is a good idea. No part of the environment is raped to collect this energy, like its fossil fuel counterparts, and the sun is a renewable resource that touches some part of this planet continuously, and harnessing its power does not diminish the supply of available power nor the potency of that power.

Solar energy can help improve the planet and quality of life. Without the destruction of the environment to collect the power of the sun, over time reduced demand for fossil fuels will slow down or stop the harsh methods of extraction and allow for renewal of the areas being mined. Less demand on the current system means less noxious gases to be breathed by all of us as well as absorbed into the foods we eat. It is environmentally friendly.

Power from the sun is renewable. Unlike fossil fuel power sources like oil, coal and gas, solar power is sustainable. The sun does not go away, and since harnessing its power does not deplete its power, it is an unending power source. It reduces the US dependence on the current system as well as dependence on foreign energy sources.

Solar energy can save money. Reducing our dependence on foreign energy also frees us financially from having to pay higher prices. Energy prices will only continue to soar if we continue to stay dependent of fossil fuels. The costs affect many areas of our lives, from the pump and electricity to our table. If more people were producing their own power, our need for oil imports would decline, as would the demand on the electrical grid and the costs associated with it. Once a system is in place, there are no continued costs for drilling, refining, etc. associated with the continuous flow of power.

Government gives incentives to utilize alternative power sources. There are rebates and tax breaks that can be used to help minimize the cost of setting up a new system on your home. The amounts can vary depending on the location, and you should check out what is available at both the federal and state levels in your area, but any kind of assistance to reduce your costs is beneficial, and could prove to be very beneficial in the long term.

Residential solar energy systems are reliable and require little maintenance. Once a system is in place, the only real maintenance involved is to periodically clean or dust the photovoltaic cells to keep them operating optimally. A collection of dust is counter productive to collecting the suns rays, but is really minimal maintenance. Pv cells are warranted for about 25 years on average, making them a solid investment, and showing their dependability for the long haul. For proof of longevity and minimal maintenance one only need to consider that satellites have been powered by pv cells for years in a harsher environment than on your home, and have continued to work properly for years.

When you look at the big picture, the benefits of solar energy out weigh the costs associated with the initial install of a solar energy system, and can provide long lasting cost savings on electricity.

Modern Facts About Solar Energy

Whatever your reason for looking into the facts about solar energy, you should understand that what you decide to do for yourself will have a much more long lasting impact on your own life than waiting for “them”, whoever they may be, to do something. Imagine if everyone took responsibility for themselves and started to supply some, if not all, of their own power needs through using solar and other alternative energies. The demand for publicly supplied energy would drop significantly. Ponder the implications of that statement as you learn some facts about solar energy.

1. Unlike tapping into an energy supply like oil, harnessing the power of the sun does not deplete the supply. The sun is unaffected by whatever we collect from it. The untapped energy the sun gives the earth in the span of an hour is enough to power the world for a year. It takes about eight minutes for this energy to go from the sun to the earth.

2. Unlike any other source of public energy, solar power plants do not draw any of their power from the use or burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, or gas. The use of solar energy would reduce the demands for oil, coal and gas.

3. Solar energy can be collected and used by the whole world, or by one person, photovoltaic panels can be put on every building on the planet to harvest the suns rays for use or just one home.

4. Using a residential solar energy system will save money on electric bills. A residential system can cut and even eliminate your electricity bill, depending on the size of the system and demand on it. Power can be supplied back to the electric company and you can actually be paid for providing electricity back to the grid.

5. Photovoltaic cells are long lasting and require little maintenance. Most if not all manufacturers offer a 25 year warranty on their products, which can imply an even longer life than the twenty five years covered by warranty.

6. The initial cost for a residential solar energy system has gone down. The price of the pv cells has dropped by at least 200 percent in the last thirty years. There may also be a rebate or tax exemption available to off set some of the cost. If planned correctly, a system can start small and be expanded over time to eventually power the entire house off grid, allowing the costs to be paid over time, which takes away from the potential burden of a larger one time investment. In short, the fact that cost used to be a prohibitive factor for many has been changed, and allows more people to have the opportunity to use solar in their homes.

These facts about solar energy make it clear that even without waiting for “them” to supply a form of energy that is not dependent on fossil fuels, individuals can start any time to reduce their dependency on the limited energies available from oil, gas or coal, and tap into to the sustainable power of the sun.

Growing a Container Herb Garden

Growing a potted herb garden is beneficial to your health, good for your palate, and satisfying for your soul. Because it is potted, more people can choose to use this method for growing, even if they don’t have any more space than a window sill. For centuries many people have grown their own herbs, yet in modern society this practice has been lost, for the most part, with the ready availability of food at the grocery store, and most people don’t know how much they can benefit from doing it.

There are many health benefits that can be gained from using fresh herbs in your diet. Growing a potted herb garden will put these benefits at your fingertips on a regular basis. Nothing is as good as freshly picked food, and most all herbs have more than one health supporting ability.

Take parsley for example. Parsley is a staple herb for many chefs, and has the ability to improve the functioning and health of your digestive system. It is good for reducing excess gas, acts as a diuretic, and helps flush the kidneys. Eating fresh parsley can help with bad breath, like toning down garlic after eating. These are only a few benefits of one herb. There are more health benefits of parsley, and every herb has multiple health benefits.

There is no question that one of the obvious reasons to grow you own herbs is the ability to add freshly picked herbs to whatever dishes you are making. Herbs add wonderful flavorings to the food we eat, and without them our food would be very bland. A lot of the diversity of differences in cultural food is the choices and combinations of herbs used. Chicken, for example, can take on various flavorings depending on which herbs are used. The choice of combinations is virtually up to you as the chef. The possibilities are limited only to the imagination of the cook/gardener.

A side benefit to growing your own potted herbs is the satisfaction you get. Many people claim there is something therapeutic about gardening, even on a small scale in containers. Something about putting your fingers in the soil, watering regularly and nurturing a plant to grow brings a level of satisfaction unlike other kinds of success. Maybe it has to do with helping life develop, or, as the case may be for some, not killing it, but nothing says job well done like looking at a healthy plant you have grown from a seed. It’s kind of like watching a miracle, because so much of what happens is unseen, in the soil. The results show in the plant, and ultimately on your dinner plate in the case of herbs.

If you want to gain the benefits described, maybe it’s time for you to start growing a potter herb garden of your own.

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