On Keeping Chickens


I don’t remember when I wanted chickens.

For most of my adult life I have lived in cities, desperately wanting distance between me and the countryside. Our family started in the outskirts of Washington, DC, but my heart’s desire was to live in exciting Hotlanta. But the job wasn’t in Georgia. It was in Northern Virginia, and then Florida.

We wanted a slice of the American pie, the enormous house on the manicured lawn with a white fence, a dog, and nice cars.

And then when we achieved that, we realized that wasn’t what we wanted after all. Our hearts began swooning for land and chickens and organic gardens and guns. Whoops, did I say that out loud?

Almost exactly one year ago, my husband sought to transfer with his company from Tampa to a different division in Dallas. We felt so strongly that we were being called to cowboy boots and yellow roses and destined to become Cowboys fans. We were in love with the all-American historic and charming town of McKinney. We were in love with an idea.

You know how you make plans, and in hindsight you can almost hear God laughing at those plans? Yeah. That.

The next few months would involve interview after interview all across the nation. From Colorado to Texas to Illinois to New York to both Carolinas to Virginia.

Several months later, the hubs was changing companies and we were preparing to move. We found out on Christmas Eve of 2016 that we got a new job and on January 1, 2017, we had signed the lease for an apartment in Northern Virginia. One week later, our family moved from our 3600 square foot house in Florida to a 1300 square foot apartment on the 3rd floor in Northern Virginia. Oh yeah, and with our 120-pound dog and 2 cats, I mean, one cat, just ONE cat. :/

Living in an apartment 1/3 the size of what we were accustomed to was a great motivator for us to hurry up and find a house. Our FL house was under contract in less than 2 weeks and exactly 3 months after we moved, we bought our house on ten acres.

We bought our house in early March. Spring had sprung almost immediately and before we even unpacked the house, we were making big changes outside. Without a moment’s notice, we had eight one-day old pullets. A week later we picked up two more pullets. Ten chickens!

Having ten baby chickens living in a brooder inside of your house is also a great motivator to get busy. And busy we got.

The past three months has been a series of us planning out the location site for our chicken coop, putting together a temporary chicken run, and then a building a permanent run. All while finishing out the homeschool year, building raised bed gardens, learning how to garden organically, ward off snakes, and acclimate to our 30 year old rustic but elegant cedar chalet in the woods.

Which, by the way, woodsy lifestyle is so not us. I miss the contemporary style of my monochromatic new house. Living in a cedar sided house with wood floors, wood walls, wood ceilings, wood blinds on the windows, wood built-ins throughout the house (including the beds!), and gold trim is taking some adjusting to. And just FYI, there IS such a thing as too much farmhouse. I digress.

We got our chickens. We were instantly smitten.  And as time would eventually reveal, we ended up with nine pullets and one rooster. The roo reminds us every morning that he is indeed a he and not a she.

There you have it folks. Rapid fire story of how we went from point A to point B in less than 3 months.

The chickens are still too young for laying eggs. We still have a couple of months to go before we reap any rewards for keeping them alive this long. By the way, we only have layer chickens, not meat chickens. Thanks to the girls, we are keeping the bug count down in the yard. Also, thanks to the girls, I can’t grow collard greens or lettuce.

Happy homesteading!


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