It was losing all my seedlings to slugs that first gave me the idea to get chickens. My tender, lovely broccoli, Brussels sprouts and carrots had been mown down in only a few nights by vicious killer attack slugs. I was showing a friend of mine around the site of the massacre; my first vegetable garden in a rental house we had three years ago. She made an offhand remark about how chooks eat slugs. A light bulb appeared above my head. From then on, I needed to get chickens, it was like my life would be incomplete without them.
Everything I've read about chickens in a garden made them sound like the perfect team. Chook poo is high in nitrogen and valuable in the soil, chooks eat pests like slugs, and most importantly - they love to eat wandering willie and other weeds. I've even read things like "never weed again!" written in praise of chickens. With their incredible claws, they dig up stubborn roots while fertilising and cultivating the soil. Magic.
It would be fair to say I was idealistic when McNulty, Lemmy and Ginger came to live at ours. I bought a 'tractor' so we could move their coop around, read up all about chicken care, and spent their first few days just hanging out with them, completely in love. It was the very first flush of spring when I got them, the neighbour's cherry trees were blossoming and the air breathed that optimistic warmth you get only in September.
But six months later, the love affair is strained to say the least. I underestimated their destructive qualities on good plants, and overestimated their love of weeds.
Do you have chickens? What were your reasons for getting them, and what were your expectations?