I write a lot about chickens, but every once in awhile I switch gears to post about the community I live in. Here’s the latest in the series “Not A Chicken, But …”.
I live on a small gulf island (size of Manhattan, pop. 4000) in the Salish Sea in between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. My house was built in the early 1940’s by Grace and Frank Gibson from logs they salvaged from the beach or cut down on their property. It’s a mix of red cedar, spruce, Douglas fir and hemlock and would never be mistaken as having been built by master craftsmen. The imperfections give it a certain charm and a hint of nostalgia. They speak to the time when people provided for themselves and everyone didn’t have to be a professional in order to do so.
My partner and I never met Grace. She lived (and died) in the house until just a few years before we bought it in 2004. By then her granddaughter Debbie, who had spent much of her life here, had inherited it. Our little homestead of 4.5 acres (once 7) was in that family for more than 60 years. We are the first owners outside of that family.
Grace was renowned for her garden, especially her roses. By the time we bought the place the garden was overgrown with glimpses of what it might have been. We retained the original fence, dug out lots of grass, made paths, arbours and raised beds, poured a new concrete patio, installed underground water lines and hose outlets and added lots of perennials.
Here’s a little tour of the evolution of that space.
Sorry there aren’t more pictures of my chickens in the garden. I didn’t have a digital camera when I first got them and when I did, regrettably, I only took a handful of their photos. I’ve since made up for that short-coming by compiling quite a photo archive of my birds.
I got my first flock in June 2005 and they were free-ranging. We allowed them into the garden in the spring and fall to act like rototillers, turning the soil and eating bugs. Two years later I re-homed them and took a bit of hiatus from keeping birds.
My subsequent flocks have been enclosed in 30’x40′ and 30’x15′ pens. They do have several (well protected) fruit trees and at various times raised beds where I grew potatoes or berries and let them dig around after the harvest. I miss seeing them out in the field or forest, but by containing them I have, for the most part, been able to protect them from predators.
All Photos: Bitchin’ Chickens