For many of us, the highlight of this year’s garden has been the chickens. It just isn’t the same without them out there, so I asked Theresa, the “chicken lady,” to share how she came to have chickens in our little suburban neck of the woods:

What follows is the condensed version of how I became known, in certain circles, as “the chicken lady.” 

I have a friend who lives in California, whose father gave each of her three girls a baby chick for Easter… without asking.  Nice, huh?  Turns out he had his heart in the right place, because he wanted to build a chicken coop with the girls as a way to spend time with them.  So it actually was nice, though I’m still not convinced giving live animals as a gift is such a good idea.  Well, I spent quite a bit of time teasing my friend about the chickens running around her yard and the egg hunts she had to do on a daily basis, but I probably spent an equal amount of time listening to her tell me how much she and her girls enjoyed just watching the chickens and having them as pets. 

Fast forward a year or two and I jokingly tell me my husband that we need to get chickens just like my friend, because organic, free-range eggs are so expensive.  He told me that if I did, he would be staying at the Hyatt downtown.  Well, in that case, challenge accepted! 

What followed was a one to two month stint of internet searches, library runs and one-on-one’s with the good folks down at the feed store as I tried to learn as much about raising chickens as I could.  Finally I got up the nerve to order day-old chicks on-line.  Convinced that it was going to be a trial and error experience, I order six (two each of three different breeds) believing in my heart that some would just not survive my lack of farm experience.  They all did, and forgive the cliché, but during the last year I’ve discovered that even a bird-brain can raise backyard chickens! 

They are just about the lowest maintenance pet I’ve ever owned!  We refill the food and water every day or two, collect eggs every afternoon, toss in veggie scraps, and let them run around the yard whenever we can.  They don’t bark, they don’t shed (well, not indoors at least), and they don’t scratch up furniture.  The best part is that I never feel guilty that I’m not giving them enough attention because honestly, they don’t care!  The eggs for me are just a bonus now.  I find it very relaxing to sit at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, look though the windows and watch their social interactions as they take dirt baths.  Go figure.   I absolutely LOVE having them! 

We’ve had our “girls” since June of 2008.  My son, who is 13, absolutely loved the baby chicks and couldn’t get enough time touching and holding them.  As they grew, his interest diminished until he completely lost interest after one of them spit-up on him.  My daughter, who is 9, is my little farm girl.  She helps feed the chickens, brings in the eggs for me, and even wrangles them up when they’ve wandered too far from home.  My husband still wishes he was at the Hyatt! 

So, I’ve come full circle.  My friend in California enjoys teasing me about having chickens running around my yard.  And I just take her good natured ribbing in stride because I know she’ll listen patiently to me when I tell her how much I enjoy just watching my chickens and having them as pets.

Theresa, thanks so much for sharing your chickens with us this summer…we’ll take them anytime!

Share your favorite chicken story in the comments!