Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard (Anglais) Broché – 17 janvier 2012
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It's also a bit tough to tell which of the plants the author says work well with chickens are ones she's actually tried. In several places, it sounds like she's just repeating conventional wisdom, and from my own chicken experiments, I've discovered that conventional wisdom is often wrong. I would have found it much more helpful if the author had made a point of distinguishing between facts she was reporting from personal experience and those she'd just read.
The useful side of the book is the way it considers the garden as an entire ecosystem. She does a good job of telling you which permaculture layers work well with chickens (the tall ones) and which don't (shallow-rooted shrubs, annuals, and herbaceous perennials in the spring). And, as I said before, the photos are beautiful if you want a coffee table book.
Is it Spring yet??? I can't wait to get out there!
I have always been an avid gardener, and the decision to keep a few hens in my yard was a natural extension of that. New to chicken-keeping, with a small flock of 5 laying hens (now 7 months old) in a small suburban, almost urban, backyard, I have quickly become quite passionate about my new hobby! Even though I probably can't let my girls free-range the yard completely, this book has given me many ideas for chicken-friendly plantings and ways to better incorporate my coop and run into my property.
The author lists plants, shrubs and groundcovers that can be grown for food/forage, as well as chicken-resistant plants that can add color to the garden, but are not likely to be eaten or trampled by your hens. This information alone is worth the price of the book. I've not seen a more comprehensive listing elsewhere, and the internet forums are filled with conflicting data/opinions as to which plants are edible or toxic.
I'll also be re-seeding my "lawn" areas with what the author calls eco-turf, an ecological seed mix containing clover, that will provide excellent forage for my girls.
The color photos throughout the book are so lovely that I know I'll be keeping this book close at hand for the remainder of the winter, as I plan and dream about creating my own, beautiful chicken garden this spring!
This is not about simply making a yard friendly for hens. This is about having a gorgeous yard, with plants hens don't eat (and many they can!) that give your yard beauty and them shelter, having a yard that is stunning with beautiful coops, having a yard that is charming rather than barren...
This is not one family's ideas of how to combine free-range chickens, natural fertilizer, organic pest control, soil aeration, fresh eggs if ya want those too, and thriving gardens...this is actually pages and pages of photos and ideas of many homes, yards, and gardens that are easy to recreate and are truly a uptopia for both owner and the winged who share it. (And by "free range" I do not mean no coop. That would be cruel and the hens would likely not live a week. Night predators such as raccoons etc are no match for a sleeping hen and hens know this so at dusk each night they put themselves to bed in your coop and wait for you to lock the door. And they hate rain. Whether part-time free-range and safely tucked away at night, or free-range inside a pretty run full-time, this still means daytime only of course)
It's not easy to have a yard you want to wander through in beauty and hens who love to nibble sharing it. My side yard proves it. They love to hide under and not eat the Texas sage but I have barren areas of things they found far more palatable. And this isn't about someone who wants their chickens to wander and not care for them...it shows beautiful chicken runs, it has truly valid advice on health and predators, and the very real danger of cedar few still know about that has been proven, and how to keep your hens protected in your yard whether truly free range all day and in a coop at night, or in a large run-- just thoroughly researched facts right along with hundreds of photos.
And I must say, I was convinced I'd built the most gorgeous and spacious run on the planet earth until I realized some in this book had me totally beat! I literally searched the internet for months trying to find ideas for coops and runs that looked pretty in the yard and found NO runs that I liked so I designed my own and I never thought anyone could integrate chicken living in an urban area better, but they did--in both urban and suburban and country. These yards are simple to do but breathtaking, coops, runs, plants and all!
While I thought I'd have a few good "takeaways" and ideas, I literally spent evenings combing through this and marking pages. I want a gorgeous yard but I want well protected hens, gorgeous coops that don't scream "farm", and the combo of the two that make anyone want to wander through a yard doubly charming by having all of the above (charming hens meet yard and garden and human utopia)
This book was on my "suggested" page from Amazon based upon other books I'd bought and, with only one other review at the time I bought it, I simply did not expect a book so thorough and full of great READING in addition to photos that make me want to visit the garden center, plan out a design, mark off paths, and enjoy the fact that it tells me how to easily do it all--even with diagrams and proper plant species for your area.
And yes, you can even have a veggie garden and hens that roam it!
And, should you know nothing about chickens, it even tells you great ones to pick-- And where to find everything else in the book too as far as seeds, nurseries, coops, (many of these coops are personally designed but easy to copy) other shelters etc
I especially loved one idea that was like an A-style frame on the ground with feeders on both sides (trough style, painted white) that the chickens could climb up but was perfect shelter from the sun and predators underneath yet attractive. I have two adirondack chairs that have horizontal slats that are painted bright colors the chickens adore and look cute in the yard...they climb up the foot rest base and sit all together on the chairs and arms and hide underneath...this was right along those lines. (I bought a kit for the chairs at Hobby Lobby in a box dirt cheap)
Fortunately the silkies were listed as a good suggested home garden hen because I consider them the best little beings God ever put a beak on.
Have kids and pets? It even suggests how to integrate them all...um, not meaning sharing the coop or anything... It should be noted, however, that the #1 predator to chickens is family dogs. Not because they are mean or hungry, but like a dog getting into the trash, sometimes well trained dogs decide to give in to instinct and play or chase. But one clamp on a chicken and it's over for the hen.
There are walkways, gates, ramps, covered areas, flowers, composting bins, how to integrate chicken fertilizer into the garden to make it a circle of giving..., and garden ideas galore.
And the coops! My gosh, my dream coops they are so stunning! I thought MY coop was gorgeous and now I am going to totally redo it.
I totally stumbled upon this while I have no doubt my review makes it sound as though I wrote it myself and I am a pen name...but when I find anything, product or book so well done, I am a raving fan. The information in here will take me a long time to read through but it's all written so lighthearted and there are full color photos throughout...
More importantly, it is all things I saw NOWHERE on the internet and I cannot tell you the hours or weeks or, in all honesty, months I have spent looking.
This is chicken living for today--where they can integrate beautifully with beauty and never be housed cruelly in a tiny box just for egg production again and even make your yard more charming. Who knew there were so many plants that could assist in a charming chicken yard---where plants and hens are safe and gorgeous and you simply want to meander through and drink your coffee there daily. This was my goal for my yard but the vision here was far deeper.
My wheels are turning and my ideas are so greatly enhanced!
it's one of those books you flip through but then can't put down.
Note: Although the book discusses water features which hens like, if you have silkies, keep them away from ANY open water...because they do not have barbs in their feathers, water weighs them down if they enter it and they will drown. :-( If you want something they can cool off in, you can fill a kiddie pool just shallow enough so their feet get wet but they cannot drown. Their drinking bowls should be the ones with just rims sold specifically for this purpose, with no open water. I have personally seen chicken owners dispondant over a drowning.
Instead of focusing on the book's supposed subject--"How to Create a Beautiful Chicken-Friendly Yard"-- the author apparently decided she would rather superficially talk about many, MANY other topics. They include:
1. Coop design (lots of pretty pictures, only one "how to do this" plan with measurements)
2. Predator descriptions and deterrent methods (Mostly accurate info, but why is this discussed in a garden design book?)
3. How to pick chicken breeds (In every basic chicken keeping book in the world--why waste valuable space in this supposedly specialized book with a rehash of that same information??)
4. How to clip a chicken's wings, etc. (What does this have to do with garden design? The author may have her reasons, but doesn't explain them.)
5. A brief rundown of other poultry types, including turkeys, geese, and ducks. (Huh?? Why are ducks discussed in a book that is supposed to be about chickens??)
6. She wraps up the book by listing common chicken diseases and parasites. (?!?)
I have had my chickens for almost 2 years and own many basic chicken keeping books; I didn't need another one. What I DID need was tips on how to incorporate my chickens into a garden--what plants to avoid, what plants they'd love, what plants would benefit from the extra nitrogen from chicken poop. Unfortunately, there is very little information of this sort included in the book, and what little there is is VERY difficult to find, even if using the index.
In addition to all the unnecessary and unwanted basic chicken keeping advice, the author decided to include basic gardening and composting advice--again, losing focus of what this book is supposed to be about. This book reminds me of a high school freshman's first English essay: cluttered, unfocused, and ultimately unhelpful.
If you're actually interested in what the book claims to be about--successfully incorporating poultry into a holistic garden design--a better choice would be "The Small Scale Poultry Flock", by Harvey Ussery.
However, if you're just interested in a cute coffee table book, I suppose this may fit your needs.
We just bought a small farm that has very little landscaping and this will be my guide. I like that this book is about designing the garden/yard from the beginning. It is written from the point of view of a gardener, who incorporates chicken keeping into the garden design, not a chicken person who manages to grow a few veggies on the side. I really want to get a few hens to help with garden pest control and composting, but I want my yard to be attractive too. This book shows you that this is possible. I love the garden layout ideas.
With all the animals we have here already, I like that she includes a section on keeping chickens with dogs, cats, horses, goats, etc. There is also a section on using other poultry and water fowl in the garden.
I also bought City Chicks, which is pretty good, but if I could buy just one book, Chicken Gardens would win hands down.