Earlier this month, we explored ways to turn your Utah backyard into a cornucopia of home-grown fruits, berries, and herbs.
Depending on the regulations in your neighborhood, you may be able to take your picturesque microfarming endeavors even further. That doesn’t mean cows, sheep, and pigs (although maybe you have the space and the know-how to raise livestock); it’s actually as simple as a small chicken coop and a hive or two of honeybees.
Keeping chickens certainly requires a good deal of research and preparation. It’s not as simple as sticking a coop on your property and filling it with chickens. You’ll need fencing around the coop, as well as above it so that the chickens stay put, and you’ll want to research different chicken breeds to find out which will work best with your family.
But given the proper enclosure, you could soon have your own little brood of happy, egg-laying chickens. Whether you’re trying to teach your kids how to take care of animals, love eating omelets, or are keen for some organic, free-range chicken tenders, keeping chickens is a great way to add a level of self-sufficiency to your suburban lifestyle.
And, once you get the basic shelter and food dynamics worked out, chickens are pretty low maintenance.
Barring any bee sting allergies in the family or neighborhood restrictions, here in the beehive state there’s no reason any homeowner can’t try their hand at beekeeping. This is especially true if you have some of the flowering plants mentioned in the earlier post. You’ll keep your bees happy and busy pollinating the blossoms on those berry vines, fruit trees, and herbs, and their attention will give you better yields from your plants.
Bees are so efficient that they will produce more honey than they can use, but you’ll certainly be able to find a good use for it. Honey can be substituted for sugar in many recipes, and has numerous health benefits you definitely won’t get from processed sweeteners. Whether you keep the honey or sell it at your local farmer’s market is up to you. If you become skilled enough at keeping your bees, you might even get hired by local farmers to bring your hives to pollinate their farms.
Honey bees are a struggling population right now, so having your own hive is a good way to help the environment on many levels.
Many amateur apiarists and chicken farmers fear that the birds and the bees cannot coexist, thinking that the bees will sting the chickens or the chickens will eat the bees, but these worries are largely unfounded as long as the coops and hives are arranged effectively.
In fact, the chickens will clean up a lot of the debris left from the beehive as well as dead bees, which makes your beekeeping job easier. The simplest way to keep both chickens and bees might be to place your hives directly above the coop. Just make sure the chickens are penned when you’re working on the hives. Alternatively, you can chicken-proof your hives with fencing.