Tuesday Book Review: “City Chicks” by Patricia Foreman

Last year we had a “tester” flock of seven hens, inherited when a friend moved into an apartment.  We learned how chickens can impersonate Houdini to escape their chicken run, how they love to perch up high, how they choose their own nesting spot no matter what kind of box you provide for that purpose, and that their fresh eggs are quite amazing.  With the previous owner’s permission, we had a group of friends come over and expert Ron Brown showed us how to butcher two of the old hens (not good for broiling, but they made excellent broth).  All of that was a great beginning for our future flock of Araucanas.

To learn more and be better prepared, I joined my sister Rebecca’s excellent Facebook group “Fans of the CityChicken.com” where new flock owners mingle with long-term bird owners to give and get advice.  Someone there recommended City Chicks and I picked it up right away.

While the book’s intended audience is micro-flock owners, Patricia’s information was excellent for anyone that owns chickens, in town or country.  It touches on flock health (ever hear of “toe balls?” see pg. 353) and flock behavior, gives recommendations for equipment, and celebrates the specific skills of chickens as they enhance gardening.  What I appreciated most was the emphasis on permaculture stacking.  “Stacking means that every element in a system provides multiple functions.” (pg. 47)  Here the book gets really exciting, showing how chickens can be used to prepare the soil using “chicken condominiums,” turn the compost heap, clean up garden weeds and fallen fruit, and keep the bugs away.  The chicken is celebrated as a fabulous garden tool with personality.

When we bought the property, we took soil samples to the lab.  The results showed that we have excellent nutrient and mineral composition, but nearly zero organic material.  Following the permaculture guide in City Chicks, we will be able to build the soil quickly and permanently so the herb garden, orchard, garlic crop, and kitchen garden will be healthy and productive.

This is the link for the book on Amazon. I believe it’s around 17 bucks:
City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-reyclers, and Local Food Producers

Full disclosure: We do get commissions for book sales.

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