Twenty years ago, in an average North Shore backyard, you were likely to find a lawn, a flowerbed, and a dog. But here in 2017, odds are that you might see a crop of tomatoes and hear the clucking of chickens.
It could be said that the supermarket revolution in the West during the 20th Century interrupted an ancient bond that had for millennia connected humans to their food sources. The ease of purchasing produce grown far away caused many of us to forget skills our forebears knew intimately.
But if the growing resurgence inorganic vegie patches in Sydney backyards is any indication, the pendulum is swinging its way back and Sydneysiders are reclaiming at least some control of what exactly is going onto their plates, and how it is raised.
Also making a comeback to backyards is the humble chicken. These delightful, peaceful little creatures contentedly cluck about the garden, scratching and pecking in the soil with their feathery little petticoats bustling hither and thither.
They make a wonderful, friendly, low-maintenance pet, are a charm to watch, and it’s a pleasure to provide them with a happy life. And they are useful –they recycle kitchen scraps, create excellent garden fertiliser, and faithfully produce eggs daily. The simple satisfaction of collecting freshly-laid eggs from your own nesting box and cooking them for your family is very special indeed.
Modern chickens are thought to be descended from the jungle fowl of the Indian subcontinent, which were first domesticated at least 5000 years ago. From there they spread across the globe. The annals of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III in about 1450BC marvelled at the “bird that gives birth every day”, and eventually chickens found their way to Europe in roughly 500BC.
The first 87 chickens in Australia arrived aboard the First Fleet and provided a much-needed contribution to a fledgling colony constantly on the verge of starvation.
Up until the mid-20th Century it was quite common to see chickens in Sydney backyards but the availability of commercially produced eggs saw a steep decline. Until now.
Check your council website for tips and regulations on keeping chickens in your area.
See all images & tips on backyard chickens in our latest magazine.
Thinking of getting chickens or already have some? Send us your tips or questions!