This Friday from 1-3 pm Sophie & I will be at the Providence Children's Museum with some of our chicks and hens for their annual Farm Friends event. Kids will be able to pet the chicks and feed our hens some sunflower seeds. The event usually draws a couple hundred people and I'm bound to run out of flyers about why chickens are such great backyard pets. I know many of you readers keep small and large flocks yourselves and I have a favor to ask, can you leave a comment with your favorite reason for keeping hens? I figure we have the opportunity to convert a whole new group of chicken keepers between the lot of us!
Here are my top ten reasons for keeping chickens :
1. Eggs!! After you start collecting and eating eggs from your own backyard you will never look at grocery store eggs the same way again. You will become an egg snob. Free-range eggs from happy hens taste so much better.
2. They eat bugs. So. Many. Bugs. Everything from spiders to caterpillars to ticks. Less is bugs is good.
3. They are entertaining. We call it chicken t.v. here. Those feathered girls crack us up.
4. They are easy pets. We spend about 1.5 hours a week caring for them. This is about ten minutes a day for food and water and half an hour on the weekend to clean out their nest box. Sometimes it takes longer because we get distracted. (see #3)
5. Kids love them. My kids. The neighbors' kids. My friends' kids. Pretty much every kid I've met. Kids love to help care for chickens and even more so love to check for eggs every day. In fact, sometimes my neighbor boys check for me and bring me the eggs they found! Plus it's great for kids to be connected to where their food comes from.
6. They make great compost for the garden. Even if you only grow flowers, your plants will be so happy you decided to keep chickens as pets.
7. They're inexpensive. We feed our girls a high-quality organic, soy-free food (and bugs, see #2). A 50-pound bag of food costs $24 and lasts at least two months, in which time they lay at least 12 dozen eggs, averaging out to $2 a dozen for the best darn eggs you've ever eaten.
8. They eat your kitchen scraps. Any wilted lettuce, winter squash seeds, vegetable peelings, fruit cores, stale bread and other kitchen scraps are eaten up and turned into eggs!
9. They're beautiful. Well, first they are cute and then they are beautiful. Not everyone gets excited about egg color and breed type, but I sure do. I love the blue eggs and the dark brown eggs and searching out a rare breed to add to my flock. Aside from beauty, keeping rare chickens also helps preserve the breed.
10. You just might find your tribe. Or at least add to it. Chicken lovers tend to find each other. Or at least convince their non-chicken friends into becoming chicken owners. (and before you know it you might look at your breakfast of homegrown eggs and toast one morning and decide what that toast really, really needs....... is backyard honey....)
11. You can try it first. If you aren't sure if you want to commit, rent some chickens for the summer! If you're in our area of New England, visit our friends Twin Cedar Farms in Acushnet who have some of the most beautiful birds and a super awesome chicken coop setup. They provide everything and you get to see if chickens are a good fit for your family. (see that, I gave you a bonus reason!)
I can't wait to meet a lot of new faces on Friday! If you stop in here after visiting us at the museum, do leave a comment and say hello.