Published on April 26th, 2017 | by Julie Finn0
Handmade Review: Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics
I know some of y’all have chickens. You can’t hide it from me. You’re the ones who clamored for a round-up of feed sack crafts until I wrote one for you, and who liked that pic of a chicken in a handmade sweater that I posted to the CAGW Facebook page.
Yeah, I have chickens, too. I have, to be more specific, a small flock of rather spoiled chickens who are allowed to free-range (at least until my neighbor two houses down comes over with a hen in his arms to tell me that they’re stealing the food from his hog again, and then they’re grounded to their chicken run for a few days. Rinse and repeat), who have special people names that they use when they come into the house (because they have to pretend that they’re people in order to come inside, you see–chickens aren’t allowed in the house!), and one of whom once jumped up and stole a bite out of a child’s hamburger at a party (her parents told her to eat around it. They also have chickens).
When you have chickens, you tend to find that good advice is rather short on the ground. Regular advice, mind you, is all over the place, in internet forums and blog posts and word of mouth. Good advice, though? Advice for someone who’s not a novice, who already knows how many nesting boxes her hens need and why chicken wire is poorly named and how to keep water dispensers full and raccoons away, but who may not know how to help a broody hen or whether a rooster is necessary or what to do about that puny-acting hen?
The internet will tell you a million different things. Instead, you need to find yourself a manual. Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics is a good manual for those of you who aren’t total chicken noobs, but who still have something new to learn (spoiler alert: there is ALWAYS something new to learn!). Maybe this will be your first time expanding your flock. Perhaps you’re looking to add your first rooster to the family. Possibly you finally have enough eggs each day that you’re trying to figure out how to safely store them. Or you have a puny-acting hen for the very first time, and you have no idea what to do. These are all subjects covered in Backyard Chickens, as well as more detailed information about predators, coops, first aid and medicine, and feeding. For instance, I’ve observed that our chickens won’t eat oranges or clementines, and it turns out that’s because they’re smarter than me, and citrus is bad for them, as are avocado skins and dried beans!
We had a hard time with a broody hen incubating eggs for the first time last year (and by “we had a hard time,” I mean “I spent too much time standing right outside the open coop door and fretting”), and I would have appreciated having this book on hand at the time, to lay out what I should–and shouldn’t–have done. It’s going to be a handy reference to have this summer, as we plan to add several new chicks to the flock, and try for another rooster, and possibly plant some chicken-friendly herbs…
…and if we could train Hedwig to stop sneaking into the house and racing for the cat’s food bowl and gobbling cat food until someone happens to walk by and notice her and kick her out, that would be great.
Image credit: Backyard Chickens image via Quarto.
I received a free copy of Backyard Chickens: Beyond the Basics because I can’t review a book unless it’s caused me to completely rethink my garden plans so that now I’m planting a bunch of herbs solely because the chickens will like them.