Productive Gardens Part 4 – Livestock
Productive gardening often ventures beyond just plants. People who maintain productive gardens are more likely to be into home cooking and preserve making. An integral part to successful productive gardening is the inclusion of animals. Fowl, fish, bees, goats and even sheep are the sorts of animals you can keep on urban and small acreage blocks.
Over the last 100 years, the keeping of livestock on a residential block has become regulated, but it is still possible to keep some animals at home. The key is to be familiar with your local council regulations, obtain a permit if necessary and be considerate of your neighbours.
Chickens are probably the most common and easy to maintain. They are not fussy eaters and will dig over any scraps thrown their way. A chook pen needs to be large enough to allow the animals to behave naturally. If you can allow them to free range occasionally, they will be much happier. You can buy a shed “off the shelf” or build your own. Ensure adequate size for the number of animals you want to keep, cosy nesting boxes and protection from night time winds. If predators are an issue in your area, provide a latched door which can be shut after they are all roosted at night and opened at dawn.
No matter what animals you choose to keep, good planning and layout will mean that looking after them will be a pleasure, not a chore. Setting a pen near the vegetable garden allows for easy transferring of scraps to the pen and manure back to the garden. Chooks foraging under fruit trees can help control the fruit fly larvae in rotten fruit as well as some other pests. Ducks, Turkeys and Guinea Fowl provide similar services.
Growing your own food and eating home laid eggs along with all the associated activities, such as cooking fresh meals or making preserves is not only about healthy or environmentally responsible living. It is also a source of great joy.