Today’s renaissance of the backyard flock is driven by a growing desire for healthy organic ingredients, food security and animal welfare—and while hunger might be “the best sauce,” a dash of self-sufficiency is remarkably satisfying too. As communities from Victoria to St. John’s amend urban bylaws to allow backyard flocks, more and more Canadians are enjoying the pleasures and rewards of keeping hens in the garden.
In addition to tending her family’s flock as a child, Signe Langford has kept chickens in her urban Toronto yard for almost a decade. Her book is stuffed full of practical advice on keeping the garden both gorgeous and productive and hens happy and healthy. In addition to answering questions about coop construction, year-round egg production and whether or not a rooster is really needed, she covers the best breeds for backyards—from the Canadian winter-tough Chantecler to peewee bantams to blue-egg producing Ameraucana.
A self-admitted “biomass addict,” Langford explains how hens are the happiest garden helpers anyone could ever have. Give them kitchen scraps and let them visit the compost pile: they’ll enrich and aerate the soil, all while eating as many bugs as they can get their beaks on. Langford also shares what plants should be scratched and what to sow to support the flock—from edible flowers and foliage to a hens’ herbal healing bed.
In the kitchen, Langford tells why coddling can be a good thing when it comes to eggs; how to salt-cure yolks and how to dash off a classic French omelette baveuse.
From Egg Yolk Won Ton Soup to Vanilla Coeur a la Crème with Blueberry Compote, Langford includes dozens of simple and elegant recipes from her own kitchen, as well as from celebrated contributors such as Vikram Vij, Laura Calder, Ted Reader, Roger Mooking and John Higgins.
Illustrated with beautiful photographs, illustrations and garden plans, Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs is sure to become a favourite of avid and aspiring backyard farmers alike.