Harmony in the Garden Blog

Ranting with Garden Rant….

Club Chicken.

This past week I was so fortunate to be featured as a Guest Blogger for one my all-time favorite garden blog sites – Garden Rant.  If you haven’t yet heard of this site, you MUST check them out!!  These four women write about really, really interesting topics, with really, really interesting point-of-views. And the beauty of this?  Readers get to send in their comments – without being approved first!  That translates into ‘very interesting’, sometimes funny, sometimes brutal responses.   A must-read site, for sure!

Here’s the blog….

The Flip Side of Suburban Chickens  


Guest Rant by Rebecca Sweet of Gossip in the Garden

Everywhere I turn I’m reading magazine headlines promoting the “Joys of Chickens in your Suburban Backyard”, “Suburban chickens – the Way to Go,” “What’re you waiting for? Get a chicken – it couldn’t be easier!” I’m here to let folks know that some people’s definition of ‘easy’ is different than others!  And here in Northern California, “Suburban” usually means 1/3 acre or less…with lots of neighbors around…

Okay – don’t get me wrong. I love chickens. I absolutely love chickens. In fact, I’ve had at least a dozen chickens in my own suburban backyard over the past decade. Note the word “had”…

Here’s the problem: Chickens poop – a LOT. And they don’t go in one spot either (like a dog). They go all OVER the place, about once every 5 minutes or so. And it isn’t cute little poop either (like a rabbit’s). They’re golf-ball sized bombs just waiting for you to step on them.

“Well, Einstein, then don’t let them loose in your garden” you might be thinking…. But isn’t this why you want the chickens? To have them eat the bugs in your garden, wander around looking adorable, “composting” as they go?

Whenever I knew friends were coming over, I would always have to remember to do a quick “bomb check”, hosing off the patio, and removing the obvious culprits from the lawn. And should I have a party, my chickens would undoubtedly wander onto the patio – to the delight of everyone – and then lay a gigantic golf-ball – to the horror of everyone.

One year, I bought a Silky, thinking since it was half the size of a normal chicken, its poop would be, too. Unbelievably, it’s the same size, and they’re just as loud.

Here’s the other problem: Chickens are a heck of a lot smarter than you think they are. They really enjoy the company of humans, and if you have them locked in their pen (no matter how lovely it might be), they’ll call/scream for you, getting louder and louder until they work themselves into a psychotic frenzy. And guess what – your suburban neighbors are NOT huge fans of this noise!!! So in a desperate attempt to keep the neighbors from complaining, you run out there (stepping on poop bombs the entire way) to let the girls out of their cage.

Let’s talk about those photos showing the idyllic chicken scratching around a garden bed. Nothing’s more fun than watching chickens scratch around in the garden, right? Well then, get ready to have a party when you come outside to find they’ve completely destroyed your bed of campanula, leaving campanula shrapnel all over the place. And watch those baby tears! Chickens adore baby tears (they must taste like potato chips). You get the idea – chickens absolutely ravage small suburban garden beds, eating the tops off of many types of plants, scratching them into oblivion, spraying mulch everywhere.

After finding homes for my girls (don’t worry – they’re happily residing in the Santa Cruz mountains on plenty of acreage) I’ve finally resigned myself to putting off my chicken-lust for good, However, we do own some retirement property, and it IS in the country….hmmmm….maybe in a few years….

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  • we’ve our first chickens arriving on the 20th, – thanks for giving me this reality check, I now know it won’t all be plain sailing (and I will have to wash off the patio frequently) that I need to resign myself to my flowers being in the front garden only

  • This was VERY important reading for me! I’ve had chicken-lust, but in my small space (and with my plant lust) I now see that it won’t be the charming addition I imagine. Thanks for the much needed reality check, Sweet One!

    BTW, Garden Rant is a great site, but I must say that I have had comments intercepted and not published. I thought we were ALL allowed to rant, but no … guess not!

    • Ha!! Believe me – there were definitely times I was looking up some good recipes on Food Network’s site!


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