"I have always loved birds. I love watching them move. However, it wasn't until university that I first kept [them] as pets or had any relationship with chickens other than my surname (synonymous with poultry in Australia, but no relation),"writes Rentachook founder, Dave Ingham, in the introduction to his book, Backyard Chickens - how to keep happy hens.
A.k.a. "Mr Chicken", Ingham says that his grandparents kept chickens, and he shares fond memories of his grandmother bartering her fresh eggs. He remembers the first time he held a warm, just-laid egg.
During his university years, he lived in a "ramshackle share-house on a huge block" and it was there that he ventured into sustainable living, by growing as much food as possible, and keeping chooks. The first chicken coop he built was made from a wooden packing crate and some scavenged fencing mesh.
A decade later, when speaking at a conference, he offered to lend a spare chicken coop and a few hens to a couple of participants. That's how "Dave's rent-a-chook" came about. He writes that, despite having a few ups and downs, it's "been a hoot". As well as becoming the "go-to spokesperson for all things chicken", he says he has met some amazing people who overcame their initial trepidation and came to share his passion for keeping hens.
"Chooks. Fluffy little recycling units that eat weeds, bugs and scraps into organic eggs. What's not to love? Keeping a few chickens was once only for rural dwellers with big yards, or inner-city hippies. Now it's mainstream and an attractive proposition wherever you live. "
Chickens are great backyard pets for young and old, and a natural extension for anyone with a vegie patch, and for those who like eggs but are concerned about the welfare of commercial hens.
Dave Ingham's book is the perfect reference source, whether you are already keeping chickens, or are an absolute beginner thinking about getting a couple of chooks. He offers compulsively readable advice on how to start, housing and feeding, settling chickens in with other pets, troubleshooting, and the (minimal) commitment required to keep your backyard hens healthy and happy.
From ISA Browns to Australorps, Ingham helps readers navigate through the pecking order using classic anecdotes and tips to help tame these fluffy friends. A cracker of a book!
Backyard Chickens - how to keep happy hens by Dave Ingham, $35.00, Murdoch Books. Thank you kindly to Mr Ingham and the publicity team at Murdoch Books for giving me the opportunity to showcase this "henvangelical and eggscellent" title.
Your turn now, dear readers. Do you keep hens? What are your secrets to keeping happy chooks?
I'm Liz, a.k.a Bizzy Lizzy,
the writer, cook and traveller behind
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.