Have you ever had dreams about being a farmer? Of quitting your corporate job and just ‘living off the land’ like an all-American rugged individualist, just like our forefathers? We’re sure that most corporate workers have had this sort of fantasy but of course, not many (or perhaps none at all) go through with it, for obvious reasons. That being said, there are ways to partially fulfill your dream of living off the land while still keeping your nice cushy corporate job, and that is true the use of vegetable gardens and chicken coops. No need to get overwhelmed; just read on!
Starting Your First Vegetable Garden
Anyone who’s ever done some cooking knows that the difference between fresh and day-old vegetables is night and day. When it comes to herbs and vegetables, freshness is paramount to taste, and when it comes to optimal health, making sure that it hasn’t been hosed down by a dozen different pesticides will probably make a huge difference as well. Of course, all of the above problems are solved by simply having your own vegetable garden. Let’s talk about the basics.
First, you need to plot out the ideal location. If you already have a nice fertile patch of soil in your garden, great! And if that spot is also a spot that receives a lot of direct sunlight and good shelter from heavy winds, then perfect! As you can tell, the ideal vegetable garden spot has the 3 ‘S’ good soil, sunshine, and shelter.
Next is the design of the vegetable garden itself. When it comes to backyard gardens, the most efficient design are like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon only much more modest in scale and using commercially bought vegetable beds instead. The reason is that most people’s backyards are simply too small to make the vertical ‘vegetable row arrangement’ work. Unless you have a huge space in your backyard to dedicate to a vegetable garden, a row arrangement would yield you a pitiful amount of herbs and vegetables.
Lastly, you’re probably wondering what kinds of herbs and vegetables you should start with as a beginner pseudo-horticulturist. And the answer is whatever vegetables you like to eat! To be honest, all the information is out there nowadays and if you have the drive to seek it out you’ll be able to find all the necessary information on cultivating specific herbs and vegetables on the Internet.
Getting Your First Chicken Coop
Your chickens need a home and that home is the chicken coop. Now, a chicken coop is not really a major investment but guess what it’s not really a minor one either. And even if cost is not an issue for you, then the time wasted most definitely will be. So it’s rather important that you choose or build the right chicken coop for you the first time round. First let’s discuss the 3 types of chicken coops.
- Chicken Tractor – This is the most basic version of the chicken coop and is more of a cage really; a bottomless, portable cage. Basically the idea is you move the coop around from patch to patch to forage in. This is ideal if you have a very small flock, or to use as an addition to a standard chicken coop (see below) for ‘out of coop time’ for the chickens with the benefit of additional predator protection.
- Mobile Chicken Coop – This is like a standard chicken coop but comes attached with anywhere from 2 to 4 tires for transportation purposes. Obviously it’s not bottomless like the chicken tractor either.
- Standard Chicken Coop – The most comfy option for your chickens, really. And while I refer to the basic skeleton design as ‘standard’, in reality there are numerous variations in sizes and designs when it comes to your options.
Now that we’ve talked about the types of chicken coops, and you’ve decided which type is best for you given your own unique circumstances let’s look at some characteristics that individual chicken coops should share regardless of design.
- Ideal Size – Depending on the size of your chicken breed you are going with, each chicken will need anywhere from 2 to 4 square feet of indoor coop space and about 8 to 12 square feet of outdoor or ‘run’ space. Plan accordingly depending on the size of your backyard. And here’s a tip, always build your chicken coop bigger than what is needed for your first flock size, leaving yourself room to expand. Check out this useful guide on how to construct a chicken coop – it really comes in handy especially if you are a first timer!
- Adequate Protection – If you’re not careful, it won’t be only you and your family’s mouths that the chickens will be feeding, it’ll be some other predators as well. Predators such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and weasels are always on the prowl and would turn your chickens into a tasty snack if you give them the chance. Avoid the sissy chicken wire; persistent predators (especially the larger ones) will tear through them. Instead, opt for hardware cloth.