It’s nearly Christmas and there’s an outbreak of bird flu in Australia.
This means an egg shortage.
Sadly, it also means 400,000 hens have been destroyed so far in an effort to contain the virus.
It’s all pretty distressing but it’s motivated me to keep chooks again in the New Year.
I love these creatures.
I love the friendly noises they make.
I love their cheerful, undemanding disposition.
I love their independent nature and their generous spirit.
Most of all, I love their eggs.
Hens would have to be the best small-farm animals for suburbanites like me because they need scant attention and minimal maintenance.
A few years ago I kept up to 12 hens, but I had a large garden.
Most people, however, could keep at least five hens on an average-sized block and it’s well worth the small amount of time and effort it takes to care for them.
In case you’re unconvinced, here are more reasons why there’s no better time to keep these glorious birds:
- Eggs, eggs, eggs. You will never tire of collecting them each day;
- Hens don’t bite or scratch people and they rarely lose their temper;
- Your garden will no longer be a safe haven for snails, slugs and vegetable-devouring insects;
- Chooks are great with children;
- You’ll feel content knowing your eggs are from happy chooks fed a natural diet;
- I’ve been told these birds can be taught simple tricks and this opens up alternative revenue-raising possibilities. Hen-busking, for instance.
- Chooks offer so much and ask so little in return;
- In my experience, each chook has its own distinct personality. This makes them interesting to watch as well as being generous contributors to the household food collection;
- Chooks pretty much mind their own business and don’t bear grudges; and
- Did I mention the eggs?