I've done a garden page, a chicken page and the old Rayburn keeps cropping up here and there, but I've not really pointed out how much they all mean to each other.
Although I operate on a small scale, we are lucky to have the space to do these things, but this can always be scaled downwards or upwards pro rata.
Basically all four things compliment each other and are the foundation of our garden farm.
The chickens we get eggs from - we feed the chickens with the usual pellets but add to that all our waste food simmered on the Rayburn.
We roast their egg shells, crunch them up and feed back to them as grit, or some we use around small plants as a slug deterrant.
The chickens produce rather a large amount of 'pooh', that goes in the compost heap and mixes in with all the other stuff already in there. This is ably assisted by the wood shavings and the newspapers I put in the plastic trays under the perches.
So, from that we have compost / manure for the vegetables. Even the old vegetables have their useage. When all the runner beans have finished, the leaves are ideal for the chickens and they love them raw. I strongly advise not letting them foot loose and fancy free whilst there are still things growing - especially brussel sprouts !
Whatever waste we have is either classified as 'burnable', 'compostable', edible' or 'chuckable'. The 'chuckable' stuff is usually just plastic and horrible sellophane wrapping (although the uses for most empty containers are enormous).
The soot from the Rayburn chimney gets stored for a year before being used again as slug repellant. To burn the Rayburn we use wood from the fields below us with a small amount of 'Taybrite' which I, sadly, have to buy !
So, the whole thing evolves with minimum wastage and every part of the 'garden farm' benefits. Eventually, mainly us.
Then of course there's the free country foods; the horseradish, blackberries, wild garlic, wild strawberries. elderberry, rose hips - loads of stuff 'and all for free' !!!
At the end of the year you can say you've saved on extra chicken food, manure, fertilizer (see the Nettle recipe), huge amounts on buying vegetables / fruit, chutneys, sauces, preserves, jams, eggs and whatever else.
We're not talking small money, we're talking quite a lot - it'll certainly pay your broadband connection !
Best of all is it's all your work and you know where it came from. What can be better than Spanish Omelette, all ingrediants less than a couple of hours, or minutes, old ?
The nitty gritty, how much have we saved. Our veggie patch is about 40 feet square and we've two greenhouses, plus the chickens.
This year I've had 7, 17 and now 15 chickens and averaged 35 eggs per week. Say that's worth £4.50 per week, £234 per year (we don't eat that many of course - 2 dozen a week are sold). With the vegetables we've got about 30 jars of chutneys and sources, say worth £45 and veggies in the freezer to last about 9 months of the year, about £300'ish. What we don't use we sell at the gate, or barter / swop, about £40. I collect wood and estimate saving on kindling and logs, about £200 per year. The compost / fertilizer say £50.
Add it all together and it's around £985. Take off chicken food (£160), seeds (£15), vinegars, sugar etc. (£25) and that's £885 per year = £74 per month SAVED !
Now you can say "£75 per month, that's nothing". But - the cost of your broadband £20 a month ? Satellite TV £20 per month Phone Bill £35 per month - well, that's them paid for !
That's the way you look at it. You find yourself not thinking in GBP, but bags of coal and chicken feed etc!
One final point - Chickens will also help in weeding your garden. They be quite happy scraping around after those seeds and roots. Beware though, they'll eat your prize Vegetables and Fruits as well if you don't protect them!
It may be hard work sometimes and hard work on days when the weathers horrible, but on a cold winters day and you're sitting in front of the fire eating your roast against the backdrop of an open fire - things are very comfortable !
Don't think inside the box - grow something in it !
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