I wanted chickens but all I got was tzatziki (or something like it) and a rockin’ compost pile (part 1)

I want chickens. I want to raise my own chickens. Did you know that home-made chicken eggs are healthier than the store-bought kind? yeah! It’s TRUE! a lot of the time, this is due to the fact that home-raised chickens get better food than factory chickens; a lot of people use chickens as their compost processors, feeding the chickens table scraps and vegetable/fruit rinds. This winds up making the yolks ORANGE. ORANGE, ya hear?!

Free range egg comparison by piedbutcher, on flickr.

piedbutcher shows a nice comparison of the difference between ‘free range’ store-bought and ‘free-range’ home-made eggs here. The caption for this image reads

The egg yolk on the left is a commercially available free range egg. The egg yolk on the right is from a friend’s back yard chicken, fed on all sorts of food scraps and allowed to scratch around for grubs and bugs. The colour difference is amazing. The true free range egg on the right also had a very thick white. They make for very good poached eggs. They taste superb, much better than the free range eggs from the store. Great eggs from happy chooks.

I would have liked to include a battery* hen egg yolk to compare but I’m not a big fan of the whole cage thing so I don’t buy them.

*battery hens = the store-bought, non-free-range kind, i.e. the cheap eggs.

I never really paid attention to things like the color of egg yolks before I bought my house. And then I got it in my head that I wanted chickens. Unfortunately, while my city does allow up to three chickens in town (no roosters), the main stipulation of housing chickens greater than 25 feet away from other homeowners’ buildings. This would mean that I would have to put my chickens in my front yard. I did think about getting one of these (and you can even move it around so that your chickens will weed and fertilize the yard in patches!!!), but there’s less than a 15-square-foot area in my yard that would get fertilized without running up against the city chicken ordinance.

Enter my dear friend Stephen. For taking care of his fish last winter, he gave me this gem of a book –

So. after getting over the sadness and tears caused by realizing my 0.13 acres is insufficient for raising hens, I dove in to find another way to make my life less wasteful and more homesteadyish. Enter the vegetable garden and home-made yogurt.

Earlier this summer, a friend and I built two 4×8-foot raised-bed gardens in my yard (and where I had originally thought the chickens could live…) and filled them with compost. Hard work, but now almost 4 months later, I’m reaping what I’ve sewn! (har har…) Aside from the obligatory tomatoes and beans, I put in 4 cucumber plants and have been enjoying them immensely, often eating 3 or 4 cukes a day! So. there’s the first part of the tzatziki i mentioned in the title.

cute little cukes

So on to the other major tzatziki ingredient – greek-style (strained) yogurt. Yum! Buying this stuff in the store is NOT CHEAP, and it has always frustrated me because it is so tasty!

Urban Homesteading to the rescue! I have another stupid problem, that of wasting food. I love milk, grew up drinking it, and though I’ve gone through a few bouts of rather irritating lactose intolerance, I still like to think of myself as a ‘milk drinker.’

In reality, I am a ‘milk buyer who often doesn’t even finish half a half-gallon before the 7-days-after-the-sell-by-rule date stamped on the carton.’

Somehow, I had forgotten that it is easy to take care of this problem and wind up with my coveted greek yogurt. Bingo.

check me out tomorrow for the yogurt-making saga. Oh and that compost pile?

hidden behind my garage

The Eco-Bin compost pile behind my garage. This system has been great for me, because the size of the pile can be adjusted up to 4 feet in diameter. Lately i've been wishing i had made it bigger, but for now (and most of the winter-spring) the 2.5 feet that i've got has been great. And yes, yes that is the actual color of my house. Pretty awesome, right?!

yeah.

totally rockin’.

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