By Kira Hamman
I know what you’re thinking: I don’t need chickens.
I can’t keep chickens where I live. My spouse would not be pleased. My neighbors would not be pleased. I have enough to take care of.
Well, you’re going to have to do better than that.
Tomatoes may love carrots, or basil, or garlic, or whatever, but tomato gardeners love chickens. If you have tomatoes, then you have tomato pests, and chickens are just the ticket to organic pest removal.
Furthermore, chickens love to eat tomatoes. Although this means that you’ll have to keep yours staked off the ground if you get chickens, it also means that they’ll turn overripe or fallen fruits into fabulous organic fertilizer for you.
So let’s deal with these objections in order:
I don’t need chickens. Oh, but of course you do! Chickens provide eggs, of course, and even people who don’t eat grocery store eggs will probably happily eat the eggs of content, well-cared-for backyard hens. But chickens also provide excellent pest control and high-quality organic fertilizer, which they till into the soil themselves. Not bad for the price of a bag of feed once in a while!
I can’t keep chickens where I live. This is probably not true. OK, if you have some kind of homeowners’ association or if you live in Washington, D.C. then it might be, but most cities and towns allow people to keep a few hens in their backyards. A partial list of municipal codes governing chickens is at The City Chicken, and if your town is not there then you can probably find your city’s codes online.
My spouse would not be pleased. I’m not going to presume that I understand your spouse better than you do, but in my experience spouses are generally pretty easy to convert once they hear about the free, fresh eggs (see above) and the minimal amount of work (see below).
My neighbors would not be pleased. I’ll bet a dozen eggs once in a while would go a long way toward swaying them. Many people are anti-chicken because they think chickens smell bad, but this is not true. Chicken poop smells bad, but if you keep your coop clean then this is not an issue. The poop on the ground quickly gets tilled in (see above), so that doesn’t smell either.
I have enough to take care of. OK, this one is probably true, but here’s the thing: chickens are very little work. The only thing they really need every day is fresh water. You can get a large feeder that only needs to be filled every couple of days, and you’ll only need to muck out their bedding about once a week. Other than those things, all you do is collect the eggs and enjoy the amusing antics!
Let’s put it this way: chickens are less work than a dog, and when’s the last time your dog eradicated your hornworms for you?