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Garden, Home and Garden

Is It Easy to Keep Chickens?

keeping chickens

I’ve got a great post for you today from Helen Redfern on the joy of keeping chickens. She discusses if it is easy to keep chickens, and why, if you can, then you should.

I’ve been following Helen’s chicken rearing adventures for some time now with more than a slight degree of chicken envy. When it came to post on poultry, I knew that Helen should be the person to write for Moral Fibres on how easy it is to keep chickens.  

In this article, Helen explains how keeping chickens has changed her life and how you can’t just ‘wing it” when it comes to keeping chickens.   

keeping chickens

Life Changing

Keeping chickens has changed my life.

This may seem like an extraordinary statement to make. However, they have changed my life in a similar way to when I had my first child.

See, prior to becoming a chicken keeper I didn’t have any interest in nature, the outdoors, the food I bought, or early mornings.  Or rather, I should say, especially early mornings.

Picking up a chicken for the very first time at an introduction to chicken keeping course, my shoulders relaxed, and I felt something.  A sense of peace. A sense I’d found what I’d been looking for for years. And also, my calling in life.  I understand if you think the latter is a bit naff and cliché: I’d have thought the same.  But I certainly felt like this was a place I belonged.

Is It Easy to Keep Chickens?

I was apprehensive, of course I was. I knew nothing about chicken-keeping.  I’d scoured the internet for others who had taken the plunge but I found it difficult to find someone like me.  Someone who had no experience of keeping any animals whatsoever. Someone who was used to a postage stamp of a garden they spent little time in or had little interest in, but had recently moved to the countryside and found space.  Along with someone who has spent the majority of adulthood chasing a career, having babies, and glued to the laptop.

keeping chickens

I didn’t know what sort of coop to keep them in. Whether to go for plastic or wooden.  I didn’t know what set up to have to keep them safe from predators.  And I didn’t know how to care for them on a daily basis. Or what to do if one became ill.

And I needed to know.  I couldn’t take on this sort of commitment without knowing.

Thankfully, after reading some books (I recommend this one) and attending a course for a few hours, I felt more confident. It seemed relatively easy to keep chickens.

Learn The Basics

The course instructor, a man who had been keeping chickens since childhood and now bred them to sell, talked us through their day-to-day upkeep.  How to stop them flying over fences, how to keep them free from lice and red-mite, what to feed them, what to put in their houses as bedding.

I returned the next day and bought six chickens.  Then, together, over the next four years, the chickens have looked after me, as I’ve looked after them.

What Keeping Chickens Has Brought Me

They’ve encouraged me to get up early; to step outside on misty mornings, on warm, humid mornings, and on wet, miserable mornings, and to take in deep lungfuls of the early morning air.  They’ve encouraged me to look around, to notice the seasons, the first leaves on the trees and when they first blossom, along with the difference in the air when summer merges into autumn.

They’ve taught me the names of trees.  Ok, I admit, they didn’t teach me which tree was an ash, a sycamore, a horse chestnut, and so on.  But they made me want to find out myself.  They made me want to research what that bird song was, the names of wildflowers, the crops that make up the landscape, the tracks made over the fields.

And they’ve taught me to slow down.  To embrace a slower pace of life.  And provide me with entertainment on a daily basis and beautiful eggs, with deep orange yolks.

If you’re thinking about keeping chickens I say go for it.  What you gain is so much more than a pet or fresh, daily eggs.  What you get is a lifestyle.

Follow Helen’s blog, or catch up on Facebook or Instagram.

And if chickens aren’t your thing, but eggs are, here’s my simple tip on how to test if an egg is fresh.

chicken keeping

All photos copyright Helen Redfern.

Home, Home and Garden

Ethical Bedding | AD

ethical bedding
ethical bedding

Let me share with you my ethical bedding finds.

This is a sponsored post in association with Bruno Mattresses and contains affiliate links denoted by *.

I’ve basically spent my whole adulthood poking around in charity shops, vintage shops, and hitting up eBay.  Ask me where the best charity shops are and I’ll tell you: Oxfam and Shelter in Edinburgh’s Morningside.  The best vintage shops in Scotland?  Starry Starry Night in Glasgow and Armstrongs at Teviot Place in Edinburgh.  Want to know my best eBay shopping tips?  You can find them here, my friend.

It goes without saying, I’m genuinely happy to buy most things secondhand, bar for a few examples.

I don’t know about you but one area in particular that I’m especially loathed to buy secondhand is bedding.  Even when I stay in a hotel I try not to think too hard about how many people have slept on the bed (and worse).  And can we not talk about the recent bed bug infestation in New York City?  I seriously cannot think about it without feeling itchy!

I’ve recently been looking into more ethical bedding, etc, new of course, and wanted to share my finds with you.

Ethical Bedding Finds:

Mattresses

Let’s start with the mattress.  I recently saw an advert on TV which recommended replacing your mattress every 8 years.  I actually winced watching the advert as our mattress is much older than that.  I’m kind of embarrassed to admit just how old our mattress is. but let’s just say it’s very very old.  I have taken reasonable care of it, hoovering it and turning it when I remember, but there’s only so much time that can buy you.  Five years ago we souped it up with a mattress topper to eek a few more years out of it, but it’s definitely on its way out now.

On my radar for when we finally do replace it is Bruno Mattresses.  Their mattresses are produced in Germany, to OEKO-TEX Standard 100.  This Standard focuses on hazardous substances often found in the textile industry, like heavy metals, toxic dyes, pesticides and herbicides, and carcinogenic substances like formaldehyde.  As Bruno Mattresses hold this Standard, their products are free of any of these chemicals, which is a plus for ourselves and the environment.

ethical bedding bruno

As well as the environment, Bruno Mattresses have really thought about longevity too.  Each mattress comes with a removable, machine-washable outer cover.  The parent in me thinks this is genius!

The prices are good value, starting at around £350 for a mattress with free delivery.  Buying a big-ticket item like a mattress online can be a bit of worry. Especially when you haven’t had a chance to try it out.  Thankfully Bruno offers a 101-night trial. Here, if you’re not comfortable with the mattress you can return it for a full refund.  And not only that, but the mattresses also come with a 10-year guarantee.  Sounds pretty good to me!

Bed Linen

In terms of ethical bed linen, Wearth sells some 100% organic and fairtrade bed linen*.  They’re quite on the spendy side though. As such, I don’t know if we could justify spending so much on white bed linen with two young children in tow. However I personally will maybe bookmark it for the future!

I’ve also found some ethical bed linen on Ethical Superstore*, from manufacturers such as Traidcraft, Natural Collection, and Fou Furnishings, all of whom rate relatively well in terms of ethics.

Duvets

Moving on to duvets, we bought a pretty good one from Marks & Spencer* for our daughter (in single size) that we’ll probably buy in a larger size for us too.  The duvet is made in the UK, with 100% recycled plastic bottles.  It’s also pretty good value, priced at between £39.50 to £55 depending on the size, and is machine washable which is always a plus point. I don’t think this duvet is available anymore, but I’ve found something similar at Fine Bedding.

Pillows

Pillow-wise, I don’t know about you, but I don’t do feather pillows.  Greenfibres has a range of pillows filled with various alternatives to feathers.  From millet to spelt, to horsehair, buckwheat, wool, and more, there’s something for every preference.  I’m also a fan of the pillows from Marks & Spencer* (£10.50), which again are made in the UK from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

I hope these ethical bedding suggestions can help you out.  If you have any other bedding suggestions that I’ve missed then as always don’t hesitate to share in the comments below.