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Good things come in dozens, right? Twelve ISA Brown hens joined us at The Lily Pad just before Christmas 2020 and after a slow start, we have a steady supply of jumbo eggs for our lovely guests, friends and family.

When you stay at The Lily Pad, let us know if you’d like to collect your own eggs. Can’t get fresher than just-laid, pasture-raised eggs collected directly from the farm.

Of course, all the hens have names, with the ring-leaders being Phyllis, Clara and Maggie. Since having chickens on the farm, we have been gob-smacked by just how friendly and social they are! They literally run towards us when we visit the coop and they actually love a cuddle and conversation.

We looked around online for an eternity before we committed to ordering the chickens, searching for the best style of coop for our needs. Not too small, not too big, easy to clean, predator-proof, low-maintenance and the list goes on. We came across The Chicken Caravan and couldn’t be happier. It’s designed by a chicken farmer from Port Macquarie, just a few hours from us here in Byron Bay. With a solar panel and automated door opening and closing system, we were sold. The only hitch was assembly.

Most of us have had some experience with the world of flat pack assembly and survived to tell the tale. So, adopting that well-used city-slicker-turned-farmer mantra, we thought to ourselves, “How hard can it be?” We can honestly say that we couldn’t have done it without our dear friends Jenni & David who spent 2 full days with a pop-rivet gun, working through an inch thick assembly manual to rival anything IKEA could imagine.

So, here we are with a Chicken Caravan on our 3.5 hectare chicken paddock on Byron Bay’s doorstep, with our 12 hens roaming freely. At night they like to go to bed inside their cosy caravan and the clever solar-powered door-closing automation makes sure they are safe. The chickens and this caravan give a whole new meaning to the saying,”like clockwork”.

One day we hope to expand, as the Chicken Caravan can accommodate 30 lovely ladies, but for now it’s baby steps.

We like to call our chicken venture “pasture-raised” which, put simply, is a type of free-range production that focuses on lower stocking densities (in our case, seriously low!) and a rotational grazing approach where the caravan and accompanying fencing is regularly moved to provide fresh pasture and ensure there is always ground cover and grazable plant species available. We do also feed our hens a mix of grain and mash plus obligatory vege scraps from the kitchen and shell grit to help with their digestive system.

Besides giving us the motivation to make an array of delicious new eggy recipes (think egg and bacon filo pie with baby spinach, Neil Perry’s famous crab omelette, and grandma’s famous lemon curd) the chickens create a lovely bucolic ambience in the paddock. Cute little flecks of orange-brown bobbing about on the green pasture. Yes, it’s the simple things that make life good.

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