So You Wanna Raise Chickens

Although keeping chickens isn’t as complicated as you’d think, there can be an overwhelming amount of information to bear in mind when setting up your flock. Many people are keen to start up their own chicken raising operation at home but don’t know where to start, or think it will be too much hassle. The good news is that it is nowhere near as challenging as you might think, and very little ongoing maintenance is required once your flock is established.

Here, you’ll find some helpful tips so that you can set up your own coop in your backyard and start raising your own chickens so that you can enjoy fresh eggs every day.

Check The Law

Before you buy any chickens, you need to check out the laws in your local area. Some homeowner’s associations and local authorities ban chicken keeping or may restrict the number of chickens you are permitted to have. Often roosters are also banned due to noise considerations.

Set Up A Brooder

Until you are an experienced chicken breeder you should avoid incubating eggs as this is quite an advanced skill. If you’re raising your brood from freshly hatched chicks you need to make a brooder for them to grow in. A cardboard box will do filled with pine shavings or corn cob bedding, a waterer, a feeder and a heat lamp. Make sure you keep your brooder in a safe area away from predators and ensure they are given fresh water and food.

Choosing Chicks

Different chicken breeds have different kinds of qualities so you will need to do your research to find the breed that best fits with your setup. You could get your chicks from either a local or online hatchery or a hardware store, or even a farm store in spring. It’s a good idea to choose sexed chicks so you can be sure of getting females. Don’t be tempted to get too many chicks since they grow to be quite large and you will need to have enough space.

Care For The Chicks

It’s surprisingly easy to care for your chicks. Simply refresh their water regularly and use a high quality chick food. If it is warm outside, you can take the chicks outdoors to let them play in the yard but ensure that they are kept secure.

Set Up A Permanent House

When your chicks have been in their brooder for around 6 weeks, it’s time to move them to a coop. You can either buy one ready made or make one yourself. You need to put bedding in around 3 locations in the coop. Straw is ideal for the nesting boxes while cob is good for the hen house and sand in its run.

Feeding And Ranging

If you decide to allow your chickens to roam freely you need to keep them safe from any predators. Alternatively, you could try penned ranging with a large pen in which the chickens roam in the day before being shut up in their coop at night. Quality chicken feed is important and organic feeds are the best.

Ongoing Maintenance

Once your flock has become established and started to lay, you don’t need to do much more. Simply keep stocking up the coop with fresh food and water and clean it out regularly. Remember to collect the eggs regularly and check your chickens to ensure they have no injuries or diseases. Chickens lay well for around 2 years but then it’s up to you to decide whether to allow them to live out their lives in peace in your coop or whether to butcher them.

Canning vs. Freezing

Eco-friendliness and environmental awareness are especially important at the moment. With global warming becoming an issue and scarcity of resources becoming a concern, it’s no wonder that more people than ever before are wondering about what they can change in their lives to make a difference and to improve the world for the next generation.

While for some people that may mean something relatively small such as switching to low energy light bulbs, installing solar panels or conserving water during showers, we have decided to try something a lot more radical.

As you know, we are trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle by going off-grid. That means that we are living without access to many of the services which many people take for granted such as running water, gas and electricity supplies. When you live off grid it can be difficult to preserve food. If you have no electricity, of course, it’s impossible to run a refrigerator or a freezer, so if you want to keep foods fresh you need to find a way to prevent food from degrading and deteriorating. One of the best ways to keep foods preserved for an extended period is to can foods, and vegetables lend themselves very well to this preservation method so that they can be enjoyed even when they are no longer in season.

So, which vegetables are best for canning? While some vegetables work very poorly in cans, others are preserved beautifully with this method. Some of the best include:

  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweetcorn
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Pickled cucumbers
  • Pickled onions
  • Winter squash

There are a few ways in which foods can be canned. One way is by raw packing, simply pouring boiling water onto them. Another way is to blanch the vegetables before canning.

Why Can Vegetables Instead Of Freezing?

Some vegetables are more suited to canning anyway. Vegetables liked pickled onions will not freeze well at all. Some of the other pros of canning including boosting the shelf life of your vegetables. Some produce is even able to last as long as 5 years when canned, and it is much easier to share your canned food with others without having any worries about thawing during transportation. On the downside, canning a lot of vegetables is a time consuming task and you will need to invest in several tools to ensure you do the job properly.

Top Tips

If you are canning a lot of vegetables you will need a lot of storage space. Cellars are an ideal spot as are basements since they are spacious and cool.

You should plan the vegetables you wish to grow before the spring to ensure you have a good variety to last throughout the year.

Try making pickles using immature cucumbers as these can well.

If you are planning to can a lot of vegetables you may want to invest in a pressure cooker.

Make sure you sterilize everything thoroughly to prevent bacteria from getting into the cans.