We are slowly moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle. As much as we’d like to completely give up shopping at the grocery store, we have a long way to go. For now, we are just trying to grow something—anything really—that is edible. Our biggest success in the backyard food experiment has been the chickens. We rarely need to buy eggs anymore, and I love having a constant fresh supply. A couple of weeks ago we added 5 new laying hens to our little flock. They are all Rhode Island Reds and look very much alike. They are currently nameless since we cannot tell them apart. We weren’t sure how the old chickens would react to new hens in the flock, but watching all of their antics as they become acquainted has been entertaining, to say the least.
The new hens spent the first night inside a separate cage, in the coop. They could all see each other without any physical interaction. We let them out later that day. Two weeks later, the old hens are still very pushy and territorial. We often find the new chickens huddled together in a corner because the old chickens herd them into an area of the coop that they aren’t occupying. We also have to place their food strategically so that everyone gets enough to eat. They take turns running between piles in their two little groups.
The new hens are very calm and easy to catch. The children enjoy playing with them and the hens genuinely don’t seem to mind. We have seen a couple of eggs come from them, but they haven’t reached their full production yet, either due to their age or the adjustment to their new environment. If their egg production is as great as their temperament, then we will definitely be purchasing or raising more Rhode Island Reds in the future.
Our garden has continued to grow, despite our inexperience. We have a large garden area and plenty of unused lawn space, but the plants seem to prefer the containers on the deck. We have been hesitant to transplant anything into the actual garden because it gets eaten by bugs or rodents, or they discontinue their rapid growth because they cannot extract enough nutrients from the clay soil.
Our cucumbers have managed to survive though and are flowering. If they all come in (about 16 plants!), we will be handing out free cucumbers to our friends or drinking lots of cucumber based juice in the next few weeks.
I’ve been enjoying the fresh herbs on the porch and have been able to incorporate them into many of our meals. We also have a few greens (kale and chard) growing nicely on the porch. They haven’t been enough for a salad (at least for a big family), but we have harvested many of the leaves for smoothies and green juice.
What do you all have growing in your backyard?