Once upon a time there was a chook palace.
In Australia, chickens are called chooks, we even used to have a BBQ chicken restaurant of that name. I tell you this to alleviate confusion as I remember one letter that I sent to my English Grandparents, as a child, confused them for months until they got my follow up in response to their questions. So ‘chook palace’ literally translates as big fancy awesome chicken house in Australia. On with the story.
This chook palace, so called for its size and awesomeness, contained about 40 chooks, and happy chooks they were. Their chook palace was bordered by three (count them 1, 2, 3!) massive vegetable patches on 3 sides and a rambling passion fruit vine covered their home. The passion fruit vine was also happy, it had its roots in a never ending supply of chicken manure and had a wonderful life and produced copious amounts of fruit much to the delight of the local children.
The chooks had access at all times to at least one vegetable patch. Each season they would have access to scratch and peck at a new set of vegetable left overs while their last patch was transformed again from a chicken wasteland into a flourishing vegetable patch. There were always fresh greens from the gardens and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Any creepy crawlies in the vegetable patch always ended up tossed over the fence for the happy chooks to squabble over.
The chooks laid wonderful delicious eggs with yolks like golden suns to show their pleasure at living in the chook palace. They got broody and hatched chicks that popped through the chicken wire and messed with the flourishing vegetable patches until they were too big to fit through the gaps. It was a good life for a chicken.
There were many successful crops of potatoes, broccoli, turnips, tomatoes and other fine things that both people and chooks enjoy and the chooks were proud of the service they provided to the gardener and she was proud of them. There were always far too many delicious eggs and crisp vegetables for the home and after preserving and freezing what she could the gardener had much to give away which she did with a glad heart.
Once upon a time there was a gardener with the perfect garden and happy chooks to gladden her heart.
This is my first time having to raise a vegetable patch on a suburban block in limited space. I still enjoy my garden but I truly, deeply miss my chooks.