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Backyard Chickens – 8 Lessons Learned

I have had backyard chickens for several years now in my tiny, urban backyard. My little cutie-pie girls free range everyday and live in their little green-roof coop at night.

Chicken Area of the Garden

I was thinking the other day about how much we have enjoyed these chickens.

When I started, I learned the usual chicken information..like how they stop laying in the winter (because they ovulate according to the length of the day) and that the eggs are beyond delicious.

But I have learned other things too. Surprising things!

Below are the top 8 surprising lessons I learned from my chickens.

Lessons Learned From Chickens:

  1. Each chicken has a distinct personality. Some are all sugar and sweetness. Others, don’t give a hoot about us. Wait…hoot? No. I mean “peep”. They don’t give a peep.
  2. Adult chickens poop about every 20 minutes. That’s a lot of organic fertilizer! And I discovered that if you feed chickens a boatload of blackberries, they will have bright purple poop within an hour! Yep. I know this from experience. (Trust me – little boys find this very entertaining.)
  3. Children LOVE to see chickens– Especially city kids. Okay, so that is not really a surprise. But until I had chickens, I had not thought about how backyard poultry is a great way to start a conversation with kids about food and eating local. I knew my kids would love having chickens, but I did not expect to influence the neighborhood kids too – especially our next door neighbors. They adore the chickens and I think everyone has learned from the experience.

    Double Shelled Egg

    Double-Shelled Egg

  4. Sometimes weird things happen with the eggs! We’ve had double-yolkers, strange shapes and then there was the time we had a fully shelled egg inside another fully shelled egg AND…that egg was huge. Yep – a double-sheller! Read about THAT here.
  5. Chickens really ARE easy to take care of.The trick is to keep the flock small. Like puppies, baby chicks can be purchased on impulse and this leads to people having way too many chickens for their space. That leads to sick chickens. Resist the temptation! Keep your flock size at a level you can handle and you can maintain them with minimum effort.

    Baby Polish Chicks are So adorable

  6. You WILL have to buy eggs at some point.Chickens ovulate when the days are longer. In the winter months, they usually stop all together unless you put artificial light in their hen house. (I don’t) People are surprised to learn that I have to buy eggs sometimes. (I do.) And those store bought eggs are just not the same.

    Chicken wire protecting new onion sets

  7. You CAN have a vegetable garden and chickens too. It just takes a little inginuity on your part. I block off seedlings with wire and reclaimed fencing. And it is important to remember that if you have too many chickens for your small space, they will do damage. Keep the balance. Only have the amount of chickens your garden can handle and your garden will survive.
  8. Somehow, certain chickens always have better “hair” days than the rest of us. I guess it’s a gift.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.