The phone rang.
The decision had to be made.
The evening discussion for weeks had revolved around that one phone call, that one decision.
“We’re so excited. See you on Saturday. Do we need to bring anything?”
That was our July and the decision to bring chickens into our little, city backyard. That Saturday afternoon our family took a short trip to a friend’s house where we picked up our first two hens. Excitement and nerves abounded. Within a week, we took in two more hens. Days later, four hens turned into five. And soon, five turned into eight.
By the end of July, our backyard was a complete mini-chicken farm. Eight beautiful hens roaming free, laying eggs, and delighting my children.
It’s hard to believe it’s only been seven months since we took on the responsibility of hen ownership. I receive a lot of questions from friends, family, and readers about backyard hens. So, today, I’m sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned. Here are five lessons or better yet, five reasons to not keep backyard hens.
Five Reasons to Not Keep Backyard Hens:
1. Your Kids Will Never, Ever Leave Your House. Remember all those play-dates you once attended? The park? The mall playground? Yes, those places. Once you welcome those hens into your backyard, your children will never want to leave. Kiss the daily play-dates, park, and mall playground good-bye. Of course, now, that you have chickens the play-dates will come to you. After all, you’re the new local petting zoo.
And since you never leave the house, because your kids love spending all day and night in the backyard chasing chickens, yoga pants and over-sized shirts will become your new attire. Oh, and boots. Cute chicken boots.
2. You Will Be An Egg Snob. There are food snobs, wine snobs, shoe snobs, but those of us who keep chickens are in a brand new category. Welcome to the egg snob community. No longer do store-bought eggs make the cut. Eggs from free-ranging backyard hens are glorious. The dark orange yolks, the beautiful consistency of the whites, and a taste that will blow-your-mind.
3. Your Chickens Will Stop Laying Eggs. Remember reason number two? The egg snob? Yup, big problem! Chickens don’t lay 365 days a year. No one told me that. So, this winter, when the egg laying came to a halt, this egg snob suffered. Returning to store-bought eggs just wasn’t an option. So, like every sensible egg snob, I went on a frantic search, scouring the whole county for delicious free-range eggs.
Thankfully, the chickens are back to laying.
4. You Will Have People Banging Down Your Door For Eggs. Once those hens get back to laying, the word will get out. Just like winning the lotto, suddenly, everyone you’ve ever known will call, Facebook, text, Tweet, knock on the door, all wanting those precious eggs. Want to be popular? Just get a couple hens and announce those hens laid eggs. Instant popularity.
5. You Will Never Sleep Again. When I was pregnant everyone told me about the sleepless nights of having a newborn. Three years later and I’m still wondering what true sleep looks like. Chickens or any kind of farm animals are the exact same way. Early every morning all eight hens proudly announce they are awake and hungry. They need to eat now. Sleeping in? Never again. Those hens need water, free space, food, and attention.
So, there they are. The lessons I’ve learned over the last seven months of owning and raising backyard hens.
This post has been brewing in my mind for a few months. Yes, it’s intended to be a bit of a funny take on the responsibilities of owning hens. I love our backyard chickens and believe anyone who is ready to take on extra responsibility and care, can and should enjoy their own flock. Just like parenting, owning any kind of “farm” animal is a lot of work and a sense of humor is a must. You won’t survive without it. Trust me, I need this reminder daily as I step in poo for the thousandth time. Hmmm, reason number six?
Learn more about keeping backyard hens in my favorite resource “Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens…Naturally”