I think during the holidays, I seem to find myself thinking about the blessings that I am fortunate to have. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes people happy. What makes me happy. I mean truly at the core. I’m not talking about the happiness that is fleeting, like when you buy a new outfit. I’m talking about the kind of happiness that lives in your heart and soul. What I am discovering is that despite being surrounded by “friends” on social media and interacting with them on a daily basis. Many people rarely touch on their loneliness and lack of belonging. I rarely talk about a dark time in my life. It was oh so long ago, but it was a time filled with self-discovery, mistakes, miracles, and the sense of belonging while on the brink of death.
A few years ago, I think I shocked, surprised and even led some people to deem me a bit of a crazy chicken lady, when I decided to share that I could indeed understand and speak “chicken”. When I first wrote about it in 2011, it caused quite a bit of interest. NPR came to visit and even recorded me speaking to my flock. Over the years, I have gone on to continue sharing my non-scientific findings from an uncontrolled environment on my blog and in my first book. I dedicated pages to the art of speaking chicken in an effort to teach kids that listening is just as important as speaking. I also offered translations into what might be their first attempts at understanding “chicken”. I have discovered how chickens say goodnight, interpreted sounds from the brooder, discovered greetings, warning calls and rooster vocalizations. I guess you could say that since 2010 I have been listening, but apparently not closely enough. A few weeks ago, before I left to Washington, D.C., I realized that my flock has given me a chicken name.
|Plant containers full of edibles. This container is filled with lettuce, pansies and sugar snap peas.|
One of my favorite things in the world is watching my chickens explore their surroundings when they are out during supervised free-ranging. Chickens left unsupervised can devastate gardens and landscaping in mere minutes, especially gardens with new tender plantings. I’ve picked up many tips over the years and today I’d like to share them with you that have made life much easier with the girls and their appetite for exploration and delicious goodies. Gardening with chickens when done correctly, is a wonderful experience.
It is hard to believe that Easter is right around the corner. The chickens have begun to resume their regular laying patterns. Yesterday, I discovered that all the hens had laid an egg. The egg cartons are filling fast and my fridge is abundant with eggs. Earlier this week, I found myself making a couple of quiches for dinner. Sometimes, I feed the empty eggshells back to the hens, other times I crush them and sprinkle them in the garden to help add nutrients to the soil and deter slugs. But during springtime, you can find me forcing miniature spring bulbs like Grape Hyacinth, Tete-A-Tete Daffodils and Crocus in the chicken’s beautiful eggshells. To learn more about the “how-tos” of this project head on over to HGTV Gardens, where I have shared all the instructions.
So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you’re like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you’ll just troubleshoot along the way. However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier. So, lets start at the beginning. How do I get the chickens?