Song about Buster Keaton. Sumo in San Francisco. Red, Yellow, Black, White. Modern geopolitics as alchemical process. (01:03:00) Getting started with Chickens: 3 approaches. (01:53:00) Godward Interview.



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The Emerald Tablet

Mobile Electric Fence Kit


Lurker’s Mobile Chicken Setup



Smokestack’s Coop and Pen Setup




Starting with Chickens

Why? If you plan to survive on a suburban homestead, gardening won’t be enough. You need a nitrogen source for your plants, and a protein source for you.

What about rabbits?

  1. Pros:

    1. Discreet protein

    2. Ready-to-use fertilizer

    3. Can keep in garage or basement.

  2. Cons

    1. Low fat content

    2. Eat their young

    3. Bite off each others genitals


  1. Pros:

    1. Meat and Eggs

    2. Eggs have fantastic nutritional profile, easy protein and fat (no slaughtering)

    3. Many options for keeping them.

  2. Cons:

    1. Less discreet

    2. Require more elaborate enclosures

    3. Fertilizer requires composting.

Chickens are the winner for the eggs unless you don’t have the space or security to keep them.

Choose your approach: In ascending order by space required and skill level.

Confinement: You are keeping them locked down in an enclosure all the time

  1. Breed: Buff Orpington (quiet, gentle, bears confinement well, good meat, good mothers)

    1. Enclosure: Coop and Run design.

      1. Coop: 3 sq ft per bird, roosting bars (cedar), Laying boxes, easy cleanout.

      2. Run: 5 sq ft per bird. Fully enclosed w/ hardware cloth. Designed so you can open it up and rake out the whole area.

      3. Fertilizer strategy!

        1. Keep the coop and run heavily bedded with lawn clippings, and leaves. Pine shavings good option for coop, but cost money.

        2. Clean the coop often enough for good hygiene and preventing rot of structure. Put used bedding in the “hot pile”

        3. The birds will grind up and poop on whatever bedding is in the run, turning it into hot compost. They will also eat all the weed seeds in the lawn clippings. Every few months, or as you see is needed, rake out all the compost in the run and put it in hot pile.

        4. Let the “hot pile” mellow for several months to a year before using as a fertilizer and top-dressing for garden beds. Start a new pile each year.

Static coop/pen with pasturing: Secure coop. Large enclosed run or open fenced pen. Periods of free grazing often.

  1. Breed: Black Australorp (great layers. Good foragers survival instincts.)

  2. Pros: healthier animals and eggs. Allowing them to forage reduces feed cost and allows them to find what they need nutritionally.

  3. Cons: More vulnerable to predation. They will mess up your garden if you don’t keep an eye on them while pasturing.

  4. Fertilizer: If the pen is large enough, you can make a screen with 1/2” hardware cloth, screen whatever is on the ground into a wheelbarrow, and use it as compost/fertilizer directly. The chickens with grid up and de-seed whatever you put in there. If its too hot, make a pile outside the pen and let it mellow.

  5. Pasturing: Chickens will have flocking instincts. Highly recommend a good rooster who will defend the hens, find food for them, and keep them together. A good rooster will help make free pasturing much more successful. Before starting free pasturing, train the flock to come to you on command with food. This makes them easier to round up again.

    1. Alternatively, I’ve trained mine to be herded with a long pole like sheep. The 7’ staff is helpful for flushing them from bushes and reaching out wide on either side to keep them together. They will instinctually flee from the staff reaching out above them. This technique works well if you don’t rush them. Move them slowly. My flock, by instinct, will stay within about 200 yards of their coop.

Mobile coop and pen method (Lurker): Lightweight mobile shelter, mobile electric fence.

  1. Breed: heavy “less flighty” brown egg layers. No leghorns. Must clip wings.

  2. Pros: Flexible and completely mobile. Cheap startup for large flock. Fresh pasture all day. Good for pasture health.

  3. Cons: No usable fertilizer output. High maintenance. Fence failure can be disaster.

  4. Shelter design:

  5. Electric fence:

Dairy Goat co-pasture: great if you have a large, fenced pasture.

  1. Build coop in same pasture as goat barn.

  2. Chickens will eat intestinal parasites of goats. Goats will defend chickens from predators.

  3. Eggs, meat, milk, and fertilizer.

Getting Chicks: 

  1. If you can get them, order sexed females from a reputable hatchery like Murray McMurray.

  2. Another option is to get an incubator and hatching eggs. This is very cool, but you have to be ready to deal with the roosters.

Brooding Chicks: 

  1. Keep it simple.

  2. 50 gallon plastic rubbermaid tub, 250 watt heat lamp >24” above litter, feeder w/ chick starter. Waterer with added electrolyte.

  3. Keep chicks in brooder 6 weeks, gradually raising the light up to reduce dependence on heat lamp.

  4. When the weather is warm, give them some time on grass if you can, but watch for hawks.

Hatching Chicks: 

If you get hatching eggs locally, make sure that (if the flock is mixed) that the varieties are compatible and a good cross. Rooster should not be a brother of hens or inbreeding deformities will result.

Incubator: Borotto Lumia series are great. Read the instructions, and follow them to a tee.

Hawks – Chickens are very vulnerable to hawk predation until fill grown, and then still somewhat vulnerable. Pen or grazing areas should have bushes or other shelter. The rooster will tell them when to hide, but there needs to be a place for them to go. Mine can hide under the barn.