With a full-time job, 100 mile commute, family and a social calendar, most people ask why I take the time to grow my own food and keep my own chickens. It’s not like I have an abundance of time. In fact, spring is my favorite time of year, but it’s also the most difficult. With new chicks in the brooder and my ever-expanding garden needing to be started, keeping up with the chores isn’t easy. And because the chickens and garden are my passion, I don’t really believe in asking for help. Really, who am I kidding, I am the worst at asking for help anyway!
I was once content with the conventional American diet. We ate out regularly, purchased processed foods, and I never would have thought to raise chickens in my backyard. But right before we moved, I found KERF. This blog opened my eyes to the dangers of the conventional American diet and how easy a real food diet could be. When we found our dream house sitting on 3.25 acres with 2 acres of pasture, chickens and a vegetable garden became a possibility. As a child I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. I loved the idea of living off the land and self-sufficiency. I’m nowhere near self-sufficient, nor can I really even call myself a locavore, but every year I feel like I get closer.
As a mother, nourishing my family with the best quality foods is one of my many responsibilities. My goal is to provide healthy, filling foods at as many meals as I possibly can. To me, this means purchasing organic every time the budget allows. But if I’m growing my own organic vegetables and getting eggs from my happy, free-range chickens, the budget allows more often than not. I do not use pesticides, I only use organic compost, and I’ve finally found an all-natural, non-soy, non-GMO chicken feed for my chickens that I can get locally.
This spring my chicken coop holds 40 chicks and 4 laying hens. I’m only keeping 20 total, but I will be able to sell eggs to feed my chicken addiction! My garden is started and I’m so excited about its progress. I have sugar snap peas that are almost ready to begin harvesting, radishes I’ve already started harvesting, onions, tomatoes, various peppers, okra, melons, squash and zucchini, and green beans. Every one of them is from organic and/or heirloom seeds. This year I’d really like to harvest seeds from my tomatoes at least. But we’ll have to see how they do. I am still learning, and have yet to succeed with any leafy greens. The bugs really like to munch on those, and I just can’t keep them under control. This is my third year of gardening, and I feel like I learn so much each year. Last year the grasshoppers destroyed most of my garden. This year, I’d like to keep that from happening. If you have any tips, let me in on them!
Some of my favorite places for gardening and chicken information: