These two photos are of a chicken coop in north Seattle. The coop is situated in the vegetable garden under the shade of a maple and a pear tree. The chickens forage in the garden during the day when the homeowners are around. As you can see, there is a waterproof hutch for food, sleep, egg production and most importantly, safety of the hens. While the plastic bins on the top may seem messy, they serve a function to help waterproof the chicken run during the wet winter. And the bins initially served as home to the new chicks before they moved into the coop.
Chickens are a wonderful addition to a food garden. Not only do they help with weed and pest control, they provide manure for compost. They will also eat most of your garden green waste and kitchen vegetable scraps. And let us not overlook the most important gift chickens give, the mighty egg. Most breeds will lay at least one egg a day in the summer, less in the winter. So with three chickens, you will have almost 2 dozen eggs a week! Talk about food security. Backyard protein.
If you are interested in adding chickens to your landscape, be sure to do your homework. Chickens are not low-maintenance--egg harvesting, feeding watering and cleaning out the coop is an ongoing cycle. For more info visit Seattle Tilth's website: www.seattletilth.org. They offer workshops and access to resources for chickens, as well as all aspects of backyard food gardening.