Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Would Love to Keep Chooks, But…

One of the approaches to gardening that I find most appealing is permaculture. It seems to make total sense. Why work against the natural processes when you can be more productive working with them? At least in theory! I’ve never tried it so don’t know whether it would work for me. If there are any shortcomings with permaculture I would be the one to find them.

I’ve done a little reading on the topic to see whether I could use permaculture principles for my own garden, but have found that it seems more applicable to larger properties.
Yes I know how some people have transformed their ¼ acre blocks into permaculture paradises (see here http://www.happyearth.com.au/ ) but they didn’t have MY block to work with.

Unfortunately there are a couple of vital aspects of a permaculture property that I would find troublesome. One is installing some kind of a pond (Gloria even objects to having water in the bird bath, fearing its mosquito breeding potential). And the other is keeping chooks.

I would love to keep chooks but… and there are several reasons I hesitate…

1) Where would I put them?

2) I’d have to build a suitable enclosure and my DIY skills have never successfully stretched that far

3) The responsibility of keeping something alive! Its one thing to kill a lettuce through careless neglect, but an animal is something else.

4) Their potential to attract pests and vermin, which in turn have the potential to attract snakes.

5) We regularly go away for the weekend to visit family – how long can they (the chooks not the family) be left unattended while we are away?

6) We are not allowed to keep livestock on our block (a legal aspect of the property contract that we weren’t aware of until before purchasing the house) – which may or may not extend to poultry.

7) How would they cope with the frosts and -6 degree temperatures that we regularly get over winter? (And frosts can extend from mid autumn to late spring).

8) How would the neighbouring dogs react (we’re surrounded by them).

I’m sure a couple of chickens could provide many benefits, eggs, manure, pest control… but would those benefits outweigh the problems?

photo: Hen by Darren Hanlon

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