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Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

Raising Chickens At Home

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Instead of a carton of marshmallow Peeps, my siblings and I were given a flock of newly-hatched New Hampshire Red chicks for Easter.  Unfortunately for me, my shoebox apartment has no room to raise my hen, so continue to pay for my local, organic eggs, while my parents play surrogates to Henny-Penny in my absence, keeping me abreast of her every development.

What's up, Peeps?

What's up, Peeps?

Even though I have had many flocks of chickens nesting in the coop in our backyard since I was a child, I have a newfound sense of propriety over Henny and her sisters.   Perhaps raising this flock from hatchlings to hens has instilled in me a motherly instinct that has lain dormant with the other birds.  Or maybe it’s the current backyard chicken movement that has me so keen on keeping my own flock.  In any case, I am excited for all of the frittatas, omelets, and meringues that these fresh eggs will provide, and the joy that these hens are bringing to my family.

My family has definitely spoiled these eggs rotten.  The hens and roosters we raised as kids typically kept to themselves in the yard, and we merrily collected the eggs in the mornings.  Our chickens were not pets.  But this flock is something special.  They have enjoyed roosting next to our air ducts for warmth, being watched over by our lab, Mick, and being doted on with attention and affection as they have grown.

Mother Hen

Mother Hen

They’re now more than triple the size that they were in April, and are living outdoors, like good eggs ought.  Yet, I have been receiving reports that Henny and her crew are not ready to leave the comforts of home.  They are posting themselves outside the door to the house and scurrying in whenever they can.   My mother has even found them settling down to nest on pillows and in blankets, sitting on the dog’s back like a scene from Peanuts, and even hiding in the corners to avoid being shooed out. You can safely say we have failed at raising backyard chickens.

It will be interesting to see how these hens grow and develop as a result of their environmental conditions.  Maybe there is something to be said for the psychology of raising chickens as housepets –  fresher, tastier eggs? A deeper connection to your food? Do happy hens come from happy homes?  What do you think?

What experiences have you had with raising chickens – I’m sure there are many funny anecdotes to be shared, and we want to hear from you!  Country and city folks alike have taken up the backyard chicken movement – how are you raising your flock?

Share your stories with us in our group Backyard Chickens

If you’re just getting started in raising hens, our informational HG101 has all of the tips and tricks you’ll need to gather the fresh eggs in no time!

The House of Hens

The House of Hens

Announcing The HOMEGROWN Bookshelf

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Today we’re thrilled to announce a new series, called The HOMEGROWN Bookshelf, in partnership with venerated publisher Mother Earth News . The series will pair a practical and informative article on with an ongoing discussion on

The first installment in the HOMEGROWN Bookshelf series comes from Storey Publishing author and beloved blogger (and farmer!) Jenna Woginrich. Jenna’s new book, “Chick Days” is a charming and comprehensive primer for anyone interested in keeping chickens (that’s a lot of us).


Read “Getting Started With Chickens”, then pipe in with your thoughts and questions in the Backyard Chickens Group on Jenna will be answering your questions for the rest of April – ask her anything chicken-related!

EXCLUSIVE OFFER TO HOMEGROWNers AND FARM AID FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS: Get 10% off of your very own copy of “Chick Days” by buying at the Mother Earth News Bookstore and Farm Aid will receive 5% of the proceeds of each sale. Use promotional code: MMEENB3S. Yay! Another way to help Farm Aid!

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Everything you need to know about backyard chickens

Friday, March 20th, 2009

This week our friend and HOMEGROWNer Willi has an awesomely comprehensive series on her blog called Backyard Chickens 101. She tells us about the good parts:

Inky is a Black Australorp and she is crazy curious. Last summer I left the backdoor open and a few minutes later I found Inky in our kitchen checking herself out in the door of the dishwasher. She also loves to follow our dog, Domino, around the backyard and she lays beautiful almond colored eggs.

the realistic parts:

Jon and I agree that it falls somewhere in between keeping a goldfish and a cat. But consider this: chickens wake up at first light and need to be let out of their coop soon their after. You must also tuck them into bed at dusk to protect them from predators. They need fresh food and water every morning, and clean bedding about once a week, and a couple of times a year you need to clean out their whole coop and run and give everything a good scrub. Before you get your birds, I recommend talking with your family about how you will split up the chicken care so it doesn’t become an issue later.

And she tells us about the challenging parts:

I will tell you something that no one told me. Chickens poo a lot. Like twenty times a day. They tend to leave their slippery deposits in inconvenient places around our yard, including on the deck and the arm of our beloved sun chair. This, um, habit of theirs certainly shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but I wanted you all to know.

Today’s installment has photos of chicken coops that are swankier than any house I’ve ever lived in. Thank you, Willi, for this invaluable resource!