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One egg, two eggs...

Fresh eggs from our chickens are worlds apart from the eggs you get from the supermarket – so we were very pleased this week to find our ‘girls’ are back on the lay after a break over the winter. Our two chickens Gruma and Charma (named after the South American fruit tree ‘Grumichama’ which produces yummy purple berries) are gorgeous Chinese silkies. Silkies aren’t known for being the best of layers, however last spring and summer our two girls provided us with plenty of eggs – about 6 or 7 a week.

Before we brought Gruma and Charma home just over a year ago, we’d never had any real experience with keeping chickens, so we’ve loved discovering what great pets chickens make! For us the eggs are just one bonus, as we enjoy our girls being such good company and very entertaining (yes we do like to go and ‘sit with the chickens’ for lunch or breakfast on the weekends), helping us in the garden by eating grubs and pests (curl grubs are their favourite), and providing free organic manure right on the fruit trees where it’s needed. They love free ranging around the back garden when we’re home (with the gate to the veggie bed well shut!), clucking away to each other....

For the moment we’ve just got two girls, as our garden is still quite young, and with all their scratching around, we think any more would damage the young fruit trees at this stage. Chickens also lay the most eggs in their first few years, and then slow down after that, so we want to stagger building up our flock so we’ll have a steady stream of eggs – as they’re very well loved, our chickens may live up to 15 years! We’re thinking of getting a couple of Khaki Campbell ducks next summer, and maybe two Faverolle chickens the summer after that...or do you have any breeds of chickens or ducks you’d recommend? We’d love to hear about your feathered friends!

Reader Comments (12)

I admire your self control, I started off with 2 Isa browns about a year ago and I now have 4, plus 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes and 2 baby Silkies. I absolutely love them and can often be found sitting in the pen watching their antics.

Costa was brilliant tonight, I felt like moving to Macquarie Fields that piece was so inspiring.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergreenfumb

We have 4 Isa Browns and 1 Australorp. The kids have named them all and love collecting eggs & feeding them.I love using them to dig out kikuyu for new garden beds.
We live in Mudgee and chickens are slowly taking over the backyards of our friends and neighbours. It's so good to hear clucking hens in the morning and not just in our yard, but several around us. Best purchase ever.

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkristieraeofsun

We've just bought some Indian runner ducks. They're great - not very noisy, and they don't fly so they won't escape. Plus the way they walk just looks hilarious.

We've Got Ducks!

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDarren (Green Change)

I wouldn’t mind having a few chooks, but my wife isn’t keen on the idea of being responsible for any kind of animal.
I also recall that we are prohibited from keeping any livestock on our block according to the contract we signed on the purchase of our property.
Fortunately genuine free range eggs are readily available around here. For a time I was buying them from a work colleague, until the night foxes killed all of her hens.
I agree there’s a very clear difference between “home-grown” eggs and shop-bought. The yolks have a much stronger colour and double yolks are quite common.

We have often bought eggs from the nearby town of Wombat.
Tourists often stop to photograph the roadside barrow advertising “Free range Wombat eggs”.

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim

We have a bantam and a Barnevelder. They couldn't be more different.The bantam has fluffy feet and the Barnie towers over her. We have finally named them Honey (the bantam) and Soy (the Barnie) now that we are pretty sure they are both girls.Their feathers are so beautiful and I love to chat to them during the day.

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFay (ordinary eco)

We've had our four girls since mid December last year and they're just lovely animals. Don't know why anyone would want cats and dogs when you can have chickens, ducks, goats or pigs. They've brought a whole new meaning to pets. They love us and rush towards us when we go outside. They each have their own personality too. Their names are Myrtle, Lula, Esme and Ava. They're rhode Island Red crossed with Australorpe. Prolific layers and wonderful companions.
I'm hoping the next generation will be Isa Brown. I've heard they are quite friendly.

September 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJasmine

It's so lovely hearing about your chooks (and ducks!) everyone, and how much you love having them as pets. They are the most gorgeous and wonderful animals to have, especially in a food forest garden. Love the names you have for your girls too. Great to hear you can have beautiful local free range eggs you can buy Tim, as you can't have chooks at home - and love the story about the 'free range wombat eggs sign' - that's hilarious!

Sorry it's been a while since we responded to comments - we went away for the weekend to the Blue Mountains. It's so gorgeous up there at the moment with all the bloosom trees in flower, and we were very inspired by the amazing food co-op and community garden in Katoomba - we'd definately recommend checking them out if you're ever up that way.

Hope you all had a great weekend with your chickens!

Ally and Rich :-)

September 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth

congratulations on the nomination! I only just found out about the green Awards - how awesome are they?! Keep up the fabulous & inspiring work!

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Anderson

Thanks Sarah! Yeah, we were really stoked to be a runner up in the Green Award Green Household catergory, and it's great to see the main stream media celebrating the eco achievments of everyday Aussies!


Ally and Rich

September 10, 2009 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth

Love your blog - very inspiring :)

We have Pekins. Their feathered feet stop them from digging up the garden (they scratch away at the mulch but don't dig...but can move a fair amount of mulch when they feel inspired!). They're a bantam breed...reasonably good layers (mine seem to have improved with age but not sure how long that will last) & don't go as broody as Silkies...& they have the sweetest nature! I let them free range through the entire garden (we have a 100% edible garden, so no option to screen them off from any edible plants) & just fence off any vulnerable plants with some cheap wire netting.

Enjoy your chooks!

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterepiphany

Thanks for your nice comments epiphany. Yes - they can create a bit of a mess. If only we could train to move mulch in around the base of each tree rather than away from it!!!

September 20, 2009 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth


I only discovered your blog a while ago and am gradually catching up on old posts. I found an article on you just was starting out converting our new houses garden to an edible oasis. It's not there yet, but it's slowly getting there. Anyway..... We have Silkies too, as well as two Pekin ducks which are very easy to keep where you want them as they are flightless. Our two Pekin's have just had two ducklings which the Silkies have adopted so they will be very confused ducks. I would recommend the Pekin as a breed as they are so cute as they move around the garden, they have a very cute waddle and very distinct personalities as well as eat a lot of snails and slugs. They have a

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSkye

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