Friday, January 9, 2009

Biggest Kitchen Table - keeping chickens

Rhonda from Down to Earth has started the Biggest Kitchen Table where we all sit around a virtual kitchen table and discuss all things simple, frugal and sustainable. Today’s topic is about keeping chickens and although I do not have any chickens, it is on my list but I can’t think of how I could get it to work in our back yard.

We are renting at the moment but are planning to stay here for a few years. I don’t think the owners would mind if we had chickens but the back yard is not secure. There isn’t a gate from the backyard to the driveway and one side fence is only a meter tall.

This is the driveway. I am standing in the back yard to take the photo and the beans (on the right) are against the garage wall and the wall on the left is the house. The driveway goes along the side of the house to the garage.

This is the area behind the garage. It would be perfect for a chook house. I think it originally was built for a caravan.

My question to anyone who has chickens – is there anything I can do to the backyard so I can keep chickens? Obviously any changes can’t be expensive and I am pretty sure the owners won’t contribute to any of it. Also, I don’t think I would want to keep my chickens in their cage all the time and not let them free range. Then again Nan and Pop’s chickens were always in their house so if you have chickens that stay in their cage (I mean big house – what is the word?) please let me how they go.

Because I don’t have chickens, here is our favourite egg recipe.

The Slice
(yes, it does have a capital T and S – always. It is that good)

This is a weight watchers recipe from years ago. I am pretty rough with my measurements and it always works out. Don’t be put off with the microwave cooking – it is also more energy efficient than an oven.

4 Rashes Bacon
1 Leek (an onion will also work)
2 large zucchini (although not as large as these – normal large will do)
2 large carrots
100g grated tasty cheese
1 cup self raising flour
5 eggs
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ cup low fat yoghurt and baby spinach leaves to serve

Chop leek and bacon and cook in microwave for 2 mins on high (wrap in paper towel for low fat version).
Grate carrot and zucchini and combine in a large bowl with sifted flour, cheese, bacon and leek.
In another bowl lightly beat the eggs and add the oil and mustard. Mix well and then stir into other ingredients – season if desired.
Grease a 19cm square (or similar) microwave safe dish and pour in mixture. Cook in the microwave for 15mins at 50% power or until edges are firm (they will come away from the sides of the dish), then grill for 4-5 mins or until golden brown on top.
Serve with baby spinach and a dollop of natural yoghurt

And for those interested in point values (although you will have to use low fat ingredients)
Serves 6 – 4 ½ points per serve (including yoghurt)


donna said...

Hi there,

An a-frame chook pen would be the best. You can fit 2 hens in there. You can buy them or search the web for plans to build if your handy.

I have hens and they only get let out of there cage about once a week. They have there little hen house and then a small run.

I would also check out a site called freecycle. If you just google it. You can look up your area and its a site that people can put freebies on that you can have from them. I look at the one in the illawarra area and twice in recent times i have seen aframes for give away and once with the chooks as well.

Also check out backyard poultry or put an add on there like wanted used hen house wanted or even on the free cycle page. Hope this helps. Your garden is looking great. Drop me an email or comment on my blog if i can help you further.

Cheers Donna.

Linda said...

I was thinking the same thing as Donna about the A-frame.

Your vegetables make the yard very inviting.

Linda said...

I have my Ellen Sinclair book out to the slice page and think I will write your variation in our book. We love The Slice. It is actually pretty much the same except yours has an extra slice of bacon and half the oil. Mine suggests a pinch of nutmeg, and doesn't have mustard (uses onion).

Chookie said...

I think you need a chook tractor, but perhaps I'm biassed!

Donetta said...

Come check out the chicken tractor. We are city folk. It really works well with just a few little banties.

Joy said...

Hi Emma! I'm so glad you visited my blog! I agree with everyone else - an a-frame would be a good solution if you don't have a secure back yard.
I've got a recipe similar to your slice, also yummy :) Looking forward to seeing updates on when you get chooks.

Myrnie said...

Recipe looks delicious- I especially like the part about "100 grams _tasty_ cheese." My favorite kind! (Although, just about any cheese is my "favorite kind" :)

emma - theberrypatch said...

Thanks for your comments.

We are going to look at getting or building a chicken tractor so we can have our own chooks.

I like the idea of either buying a second hand one or using reclaimed materials so I will try out freecycle.

I spoke to my cousin on the weekend who has always had chooks and ducks and he also gave me some great advice and can help me buy the hens.

If we have any questions you can also be sure I will be posting them.


Schelle said...

Bantams are probably your best bet - I currently have 5 hens and a rooster living on our verandah! A tub of dirt to scratch in, fresh straw or dried grass every other week, grain, water and table scraps changed daily and they are perfectly happy. It's not ideal but surprisingly, it works!

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