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If your garden fantasies involve chickens, Jessi Bloom, author of FREE-RANGE CHICKEN GARDENS: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard (Timber Press, paper, $19.95), is here to make those dreams come true. Chickens bring out interesting characters. My new heroine is Elizabeth Zumwalt, a chicken whisperer, educator and entrepreneur who blogs about her family’s Bantam hens, sells eggs and gives half the proceeds to charity. She pulls a red wagon, topped with a chicken house, when she heads out to educate people about her birds. Elizabeth is 9 years old.
By the time you’re done with Bloom’s clever book, you’ll know almost as much about chickens as Elizabeth does. And maybe more about what chickens like than what your children do. You’ll be looking for bug logs and creating dust baths. You’ll know that chickens like to have mirrors hanging in their gardens — but take care with the angle, since they have eyes on the sides of their heads. There is no end to the vanity of a chicken.
“Experienced free-ranging chickens” — now that’s a real sign of the times; do chickens no longer have a tribal memory of roaming? — will know not to eat toxic berries, but Bloom is an expert guide for the untutored. Somehow, I’m sure that chickens prefer heirloom vegetables to any other variety. And while your flock may break free to cross the road, you’ll be relieved to learn that (unless they have an unfortunate encounter with a car) they’ll probably be no worse for the wear. Chickens don’t sweat.
Bloom genially celebrates geodesic domes and shingled coops with stone chimneys and even clean-lined modernist coops. She also writes about “naughty” chickens: “Chickens are social and hormonal creatures, and when we have them living in ways that are different from how they would live naturally, they are prone to behaviors that can be damaging to themselves or that are simply normal but just catch us off guard.” You might have thought she was talking about teenagers, but I now see that they’re easier to raise than chickens. I’m thinking . . . roast chicken with that rosemary?
"Essential guide that will bring your dream home to roost."
"This well-thought-out and thoroughly comprehensive new book covers the topic so efficiently and completely that it is bound to become the gardener's go -to reference when chickens are the focus."
Received the book quickly and read it immediately. I am looking forward to implementing the information as we prepare our new home for receiving our chickens this spring. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Helyn Whetton
very pretty, pleasant read, but not quite the gospel of chicken or garden.Published 7 days ago by Gwendolyn
Idea is good, but essentially it says you can only plant certain items and anything you don't want the chickens in, must be caged or kept in a different area, i.e. Read morePublished 9 days ago by K. Bawkin
I read lots of chicken books and lots of garden books so there wasn't anything new for me. Someone new to chickens and gardens might find it worthwhile.Published 10 days ago by Mary Lou Burke
I like the suggestions and enjoyed looking it over. Not as focused on my need to make a self-sustaining chicken run with their food growing with them.Published 1 month ago by Michelle
if you are in suburbia and new to gardening and chickens this might be fun. if you are in the country amd already have chickens dont bother... there is nothing of use here.Published 1 month ago by Laura SC