Saturday, October 22, 2011

Broomcorn and Chickens

I saw broom corn in a seed catalogue last winter and decided to take a stab at growing it.  No - I don't intend to construct a broom -- but I could if I wanted to.  I knew that broom corn is decorative and I pictured a large cluster of broom corn, pumpkins and mums on my front step.  That hasn't come together yet, but the corn looks nice leaning against the house.  I read somewhere that chickens enjoy broom corn after you take down your Fall decorations.  That convinced me to try it!
The broom corn did much better than my sweet corn did.  It was quick to shoot up and grew quite tall.  Bugs seemed to leave it alone and it was basically carefree.  Just plant it and a few months later, harvest it.  Now that is my kind of gardening!
Oh, and the chickens LOVE it!  I will stick one of the stalks in to the coop and they'll have the corn picked off within a couple of hours -- leaving the broom bristles behind.  I give them one stalk every few days as part of a steady rotation of treats.
They get chicken feed and fresh water every day, but that must get boring.  They get fresh grass when we move the chicken tractor around to a new patch of grass -- but that doesn't happen often enough because of how much it weighs.  So, every afternoon I try to give them something special to switch things up.  Today they got 2 pieces of stale bread and some leftovers from a baby shower I attended today (an oriental style salad with baby corn, peppers, chow mein noodles, etc. and some fruit).  Oh, and they got a couple of cherry tomatoes too.  That little bit of variety makes them very happy.

Aren't the girls beautiful?  And they are quite large now too!  My little chicks have grown up it to lovely young hens.  Oh, and they finally started laying eggs to earn their keep.  I'm steadily getting one or two eggs a day between the seven of them.  I'm sure production will increase as they mature.  The eggs are small, but beautiful.  They are different shades of browns, and different sizes and shapes as well. 

This week we ended up purchasing a new coop.  This is the last one, darn it!  Charlie had bought me one for Christmas last year -- but it ended up being too small and I had some security concerns (it didn't look predator-proof).  Then, we built a nice summer home for them.  It worked out very well, but I'm concerned it is not going to keep the cold of winter out and that it is still too small for seven full grown birds.  So, we broke down and did it.  We bought an Amish coop.  It was not cheap.  I hate spending that kind of money on some chickens, but the coop will last for many years to come.  Let me tell you -- keeping chickens is an expensive hobby.  I know we could do it for a lot less money than we have so far, but I guess it is part of the learning curve.

No comments: