| Chickens

Raising Chickens - Year One Lessons

Why did we get chickens?

My reason for wanting chickens was simple. I wanted my family to have the entire farm to table experience firsthand. My parents both grew up in small town Minnesota and have childhood memories riddled with stories of farm life. But that's just it, those are their memories. I didn't grow up in that world and quite frankly had no desire to live that life. Then something happened. I became a mom.

Motherhood changed my whole mindset. It wasn't about me anymore. Suddenly, it became exceedingly important to me to teach my kids all of the life skills I had been blessed with from my mom. She gave me a base understanding in so many areas of homesteading like cooking, sewing, canning, gardening and baking. I didn't want that family heritage to end with me.

When my boys were just a few months old, I made jam for the first time by myself. That summer, I grew lettuce in a container on my patio. The idea of having chickens came into my head during that time, but we were renting a small 2nd floor apartment in the city. It was a pipe dream. But then, when my boys were 15 months old, we bought our home in Kitsap County and suddenly the potential for all of my garden and homesteading dreams were possible.

Fast forward three years and after much pleading and talking it over with my husband, I finally convinced him we should get chickens. So as a family, we drove to Viking Feed in Poulsbo and picked out four day old chicks; two Speckled Sussix and two Silver Laced Wyandotte. I'd like to say we went into it prepared, but that would be lying. It was a learn as you go situation. Jason built the coop basically in time for them to move in, and when it was move in day, I thought it was a really big coop for four birds, so with his blessing, I picked up four more chicks that were about the same age as ours. That bunch had two more Silver-Laced Wyandotte, a Rhode Island Red and a Golden Sexlink. We moved them all into the coop on the same day and our flock was set.

So has it gone as we expected? Actually, no. It was way easier than we expected it to be. Jason and I both expected it to be a lot more work and more involved. But it's pretty much been set it and forget it. As long as they have food, water and a clean, dry space, you're good to go. And on the rare occasion that a problem arose, answers are readily available. Whether it's friends who have chickens, the guys working at Viking Feed, or the good old Internet our answers were easy to find. Our biggest surprise actually is the fact that we haven't lost any birds to predators. Our home is in the middle of an old forest near Puget Sound. We have neighborhood Barred Owls, bald eagles and hawks to worry about as well as raccoon, coyote and who knows what else. That must mean our enclosed coop and run have done their job.

Another surprise is how much we enjoy having them around. Hearing their clucks and cries when they lay eggs has become a comforting sound when I'm in the house. I know for a fact that I have spent more time outside my house because of them. Every day, I have a reason to put on shoes and walk out my door. Or some days, when I need the kids to burn off some energy I will send them to go collect eggs and I get a few moments of quiet. It's a win win.

So far having chickens on our little homestead has been great and I would absolutely recommend anyone on the fence to go for it. The lessons learned and knowledge gained have been an absolute blessing to my family. Stay tuned, because we have a lot of changes underway for our flock. Our coop is getting a renovation and our flock is growing. I will share our progress as it comes. If you have any chicken topics you'd like covered, please comment below.