Thank you for this guest post from Evan Dunn - Find the original post HERE
Raising chickens brings a slice of country living to your home in the city. Eggs fresh from the hen house are healthier and tastier than store-bought, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you farmed them yourself. Chicken litter—the spilled feed, shed feathers, chicken poop, and organic bedding that collects in the coop—is an excellent garden fertilizer and a great addition to your compost. Chickens are very affectionate and make wonderful pets—and they’re more than happy to eat up those pesky insects in your backyard. If you’re new to the world of urban backyard farming, use this basic guide as a jumping-off point to decide if raising chickens is right for you.
Do You Have What it Takes to Raise Chickens?
Before you get too deep into the nuts and bolts of urban chicken farming, make sure you have the answers to these important questions:
Does Your City Allow Chickens?
Being a renegade farmer might be a path for some, but for the rest of us law-abiders, it’s important to check with your city’s health or zoning boards to see if it’s legal for you to own chickens. Some states require a permit or charge a fee for urban farming, and certain restrictions may govern coop size and placement. Most cities that allow backyard chickens have ordinances in place that you’ll need to follow. There are usually limits to how many chickens you’re allowed to have, and many cities have laws against owning roosters due to their noisy nature.
Do You Have Enough Space?
Chickens don’t take up a ton of space, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a hearty enough swath of land for a chicken coop and plenty of room for your hens to graze. If your flock doesn’t have enough space to roam, things can get dark quickly—increased anxiety, obsessive pecking, etc.
For the coop itself, the rule of thumb is three square feet per chicken—three chickens will require a nine-square-foot coop. Each chicken needs at least 15 square feet of space outside the coop to roam on. More space is better if you’ve got it, but as long as you meet these basic requirements, your chickens will be happy, healthy, and provide you with an abundance of delicious eggs.
Can You Afford to Raise Chickens?
Raising chickens isn’t all that expensive once you get going, but you’ll have to spring for the up-front costs—the most expensive being the chicken coop, which can run anywhere from $100 to $5000, depending on how elaborate you want to get. Chicken feed costs around $25 for a 50-pound bag, which will feed three to four chickens for a month. Organic feed costs a little more. Chicks are just a few dollars each, and run-of-the-mill, egg-laying hens cost around $20 apiece. Fancier breeds, like Brahmas and Orpingtons, are more expensive.
Are You Committed to the Work it Takes?
Chickens require regular care and attention. Daily maintenance tasks include feeding, providing clean water, and collecting those beautiful, freshly laid eggs. Monthly maintenance includes deep-cleaning water containers, freshening nest boxes, free and changing the bedding. If you travel, you’ll need to find someone to care for your chickens while you’re away—payment in farm-fresh eggs should be plenty of incentive to get a friend to take over chicken-sitting duties! Keep in mind that owning chickens is a long-term commitment of time, money, and caregiving. If you decide raising chickens isn’t for you, you’ll need to find a new home for your birds.
Planning Your Backyard Chicken Community
Now that you know the basic requirements for raising chickens, here’s the basic lowdown on coops and birds.
DIY vs. Store-Bought Chicken Coops
Do you want to build your own chicken coop, or buy one? A DIY chicken coop is a fun project for those with some building know-how and a free weekend. You can find chicken coop blueprints on the internet in more shapes and sizes than you can shake a stick at. A major advantage to building your own chicken coop is that it’s generally about half the cost of buying one, and you can get creative with it. If DIY-ing a chicken coop isn’t for you, you can find just what you’re looking for online or at your local farm supplies retailer.
Different Types of Chickens
Chickens come in numerous breeds. Some lay more eggs than others, some are friendlier than others, and some eat more than others. Once you become experienced with raising chickens, you can branch out and consider a wide variety of breeds with unique traits. But in the beginning, it’s a good idea to start with one of the easier, more standard breeds. Try one of these popular chickens:
Golden Comet: The Golden Comet is a common hybrid that’s been bred to eat a small amount of food while laying around 280 eggs a year.
Rhode Island Red: These rust-colored chickens can be raised for eggs or meat. They’re a strong breed and lay around 250 brown eggs each year.
Sussex: Sussex is a calm, friendly breed that won’t destroy your garden and will lay around 250 eggs a year, ranging in color from brown to cream.
Plymouth Rock: These large chickens are easily tamed and lay eggs every couple of days—about 200 a year, mostly small-to-medium in size and light brown in color.
Easter Eggers: This hybrid breed lays around 250 gorgeous blue eggs each year. They’re a little more nervous than the above breeds and may not be as easy to cuddle.
How Many Chickens Should You Start With?Chickens are social creatures and can literally die of loneliness, so plan on buying at least two birds. Some cities allow 25 chickens per flock, while other cities cap it at five. Check with your city’s ordinances to see how many birds you can buy. Then, decide how many you actually want—a good laying hen will produce around six eggs a week, so if you only need enough fresh eggs for your family, start with two or three hens.
If you’re planning to sell eggs to your community, you’ll need a bigger flock. But unless you farm chickens on a somewhat large scale, it’s a possibility that you won’t break even every month—so unless you find raising them enjoyable and rewarding, it’s probably not the best way to try to make a profit.
Larger broods will require more space, a larger coop, more time and money than a smaller flock. If you’re not sure where your chicken-raising will lead you, it’s a good idea to start with just a pair of hens and work your way up.
Raising your own chickens promotes sustainability and healthy living, and it provides you with healthy food, delightful feathered friendships, and a lot of personal satisfaction. So go forth and get yourself some chickens, and create the backyard farm of your dreams.
First make sure to boil water and use tongs to place nettles in boiling water for about 60 seconds. (this will rid the nettles of any stinging properties).
Strain, dry, and finely chop nettles before adding them to a food processor.
Once nettles are added, add in pine nuts (or whichever nut you choose), parmesan, finely chopped garlic, and begin to pulse your food processor. Slowly add in olive oil and salt. Depending on your consistency preference olive oil amounts will change!
How easy is that!? ENJOY on bread, pasta, or simply as dip!
Did you know we have a mill at the farm store to grind your own corn?
Here's a super simple recipe to turn your ground corn into delicious homemade polenta! All you need is water and salt!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner! This year, try our stuffing recipe that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. We even have many of these ingredients currently in stock at the farm store!
Traditional Holiday Stuffing
With a bounty of Green String tomatoes still in the farm store, we decided to share with you on of our favorite tomato recipes. This tart makes for a perfect quick and easy way to serve tomatoes!
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
Apple pie, one of our favorite desserts here at Green String Farm, especially when made with our farm fresh Green String Apples! This recipe is sugar free and still completely delicious..Make sure to tell us your favorite takes on the classic apple pie!
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Although we usually would make our own pie crust, sometimes you don't have the time. This time we decided to use a pre-made pie shell. Cut peeled apples into thin wedges and put into a large bowl. Stir in lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, cornstarch and salt. Add this mixture to the bowl of apples and stir to coat. Dump into pie plate with bottom crust. Put crumble topping on top of apple filling. Bake pie on the bottom rack for 7 minutes, then move to the middle rack, placing pie on a metal baking sheet to catch spills. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for additional 40 minutes or until juices are bubbling and crust is nicely browned. Then remove from oven and let rest for 1 hour on a wire rack.
In a medium-sized bowl, place the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the butter and chopped almonds, and mix to combine well. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until firm (or the freezer for about 5 minutes).
Arguably the greatest thing about Summer is the produce that we have access to in this beautiful part of the world and this time of the year. And right now the Green String Farm store is bursting with ripe tomatoes! Our favorite uses for these lovelies? Too many to choose from, but here are some of our go to's!
1. Make tomato sauce: (and freeze some of it) that way you can enjoy summer freshness all year round on pizza, pastas, baked eggs, or stews.
2. Caprese Salad: You have to keep it fresh in the summer and nothing says summer more than a good old fashioned caprese salad with fresh basil and mozzarella!
3. Homemade Bloody Mary: Easily one of our favorites because it's delicious, and it's EASY all you gotta do is combine fresh tomatoes, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, salt, pepper, and celery in a blender until you have a smooth consistency, add vodka as needed! :)
4. Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Make these delicious sun-dried tomatoes and keep them for sandwiches and salads. We like using the sun, and we dry the tomatoes outside for 1.5 days! but you can also use your oven and bake the tomatoes for 12 hours!
5. The BLT: A classic! You can't go wrong with this comfort food, and nothing tastes better than when a tomato goes straight from the farm to the sandwich!
We all love to use herbs in our cooking! There's nothing better than a sprig of thyme, muddled mint, or rosemary anything! But if you're looking for other ways to use Green String herbs, look no further, we've compiled a list of our 5 favorite herb uses outside of cooking:
1. Tea: We LOVE using herbs as tea mint and lemon verbena are our favorite!! We dry out Lemon Verbena leaves and simply boil the dried leaves until the water is steeped to our liking, strain and enjoy! It's 100% one of the most relaxing things possible!
2. Skin Care: It's no wonder that the majority of skin products have herbs in the ingredients, but no need to go out an buy all those expensive bottles! Use an herbal steam to calm the skin and to keep pores clean.
3. Muslin Dryer Bags: This is a great way to have your clothes smally herb-y fresh! Create small muslin bags filled with your favorite scented herb and throw it into the dryer with your clothes - they'll come out smelling wonderful!
4. Add to your flower bouquets: Herbs like lavender and rosemary make beautiful additions to flower arrangements or work on their own as lovely bouquets!
5. Muddled: We're back to the drinks because herbs compliment drinks so well! You can go for the obvious muddled mint for mojitos, or get creative with some thyme hard lemonade, or Tarragon iced tea!
1. Artichokes are DELICIOUS: We can never keep artichokes in the store for long! Artichokes are so versatile and are easily worked into any meal (we love artichoke dip!).
2. Vitamin C: Artichokes provide you with 25% of your daily recommended Vitamin C! Give your immune system a boost with artichokes!
3. Stay Regular: Keep your digestive system happy and healthy with Artichokes, which have high amounts of fiber.
4. Keep a Healthy Liver: Two antioxidants found in artichokes, cynarin, and silymarin, have been shown to improve the overall health of the liver by reducing the presence of toxins.
5. Heart Health: Certain ingredients in artichokes leaves have been found to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the levels of good cholesterol (HDL or omega-3 fatty acids).
Do you have a favorite use for extra citrus? Leave a comment and let us know!
Green String Farm
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