Ba-Gock: Introducing Chickens to Our Backyard

Aren’t we just full of big projects? Many people already know Krista & I have been “planning” to add a backyard flock to our house since forever. I mean, that was part of the reason that we bought a house at all, and part of the reason we bought the house that we bought. Our house is magically in a one square block pocket of the city that is not incorporated (NO anti-urban farm regulations here!) so we can build an egg empire if we so choose. But as with all things, life gets in the way. With all the raised garden bed building and bee keeping frenzy of last year, our chicken coop never materialized. This week, our dear friends forced our hand to throw in on a chick order & build some coops together. Frankly, with all the eggs on our table these days, we’d be fools to put this off another year. So please, let me introduce you to the breeds we’re ordering this year.

CLOCKWISE FROM UPPER LEFT: buff orpington, barred plymouth rock, easter egger, white leghorn, that’s not a real chicken, and welsummer

We picked each breed for a different reason, but they are all pretty, hardy and productive. They will lay a variety of egg colors to keep things interesting. Levi read a library book about chickens and specifically requested the buff orphington when we first hatched this scheme years ago. So we had to get one for him.

Now, we only need to train the attack dogs to leave them alone.


When I was a teenager, I had a very failed flock of guinea hens who were picked off quickly by predators thanks to my completely inadequate coop. I do want to publicly thank my dad for telling me that they “escaped” and ran away. I appreciate the kindness of that little lie. My bestie Rayshell had a family flock of chickens for years, but they were not beloved family pets. They were not friendly and really stupid!! I grew up in a rural area, so almost all of my neighbors had chickens and I remember feeding & collecting eggs when our neighbors went on vacation. I have read many, many books from the library about chickens, because I’m that kind of nerd. And that, my friends, is the extent of my chicken-rearing knowledge!

questions i know you will ask:

why are you getting chickens?
This is like asking me why I’m a vegetarian. All of the Reasons! Every reason to get chickens (except eating them) is why we are doing it. Eggs! Localizing our protein supply, food security, economic reasons, entertainment value, a very steady compost supply, food safety issues (no one will recall our eggs), organic food and higher nutrition, we don’t have enough hobbies to fill our time, bug and weed control, etc. Homegrown eggs are rumored to be lower in cholesterol and higher in various nutrients. I’m no food scientist, but it just makes sense. It’s really not a new idea. People have had backyard chickens forever.

how many chickens are you getting?
We’re starting with five and plan to add a couple every year like diversifying a stock portfolio.

i thought you were vegan?
yes, we have a lot of years of veganism under our collective belts and we can bake some mean vegan cupcakes, but having a supremely local, cheap, unprocessed, organic protein source is more important to us at this point. Not every vegan needs to run out and get chickens as mandated by me (obviously I don’t make decisions for other people), but it’s the right choice for our family right now. I still consider veganism to be a superior dietary choice to mindless, unconscious, over-processed food choices. Just sayin, this isn’t a mindless, “trendy” decision for us.

where are you ordering from?
My Pet Chicken. Many hatcheries require orders of 25 birds, but they ship as few as 3.

can i come visit your chickens?
yes, please do! we can watch Chicken TV together!

if i visit, may i draw/photograph your chickens?
What a ridiculous question. I love art, especially art made by you, especially art of my pets. I will make you dinner if you make chicken art for me. Also, can I hire you to do portraits of my cats and dogs, too?

are you going to post 100 photos, stories and videos about your chickens?
Of course. We love over-sharing.

what are you going to do when they get old and stop laying? will you eat them?
Our vegetarianism doesn’t stop at our backdoor, so we will not eat them. They will age as gracefully or ungracefully as they like in our backyard flock. We already have plenty of worthless pets around, so what’s one (or five) more? The way I figure it, at least they will earn their retirement, unlike dogs and cats, who need to get jobs & pay rent.

what is your chickens’ theme song?
I am so lucky to have such good friends who would ask me such an important question. Our girls will cluck, lay eggs and forage to their theme song:

(I’m going to tell the girls that the parts about slaughter and roasting are fiction. These chickens will live a life never knowing the fate of their brethren.)

Stay tuned. We will document our coop-building experience before the chicks arrive, and then all the precious moments after they arrive. The delivery date is the week of May 16th. We won’t see eggs for weeks/months, but the cuddling and entertainment should make up for it.

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16 Comments

Filed under chickens, food, garden, goals, spring

16 responses to “Ba-Gock: Introducing Chickens to Our Backyard

  1. caitlin

    chickens and cibo matto all in one place.

    i cant wait to see your coop because i know you ladies be all crafty and adorable.

    • hopefully the coop construction will not prove more than we are capable of. i bought some plans to make things easier. are you getting chickens this year? you can sing cibo matto to them, too.

  2. ellen

    I.
    AM.
    SO.
    EXCITED!!!!!

    excited enough that i spent more than one second wondering if i too could have some chickens. given my lack of ability to handle track record doing even a fraction of the maintenance efforts that i’m supposed to be doing, this is an absurd thought.

    however!!!!

    i am so so so excited to enjoy the chickens vicariously. like, so excited that i think i squealed when i saw this post.

    also, “Ba-Gock” = best title ever in history of the world.

    furthermore omg i forgot about this song! the internets are slow so hopefully by the time i’m finished typing this i can actually play the video.

  3. ellen

    gah, clicking “notify”

  4. Hillary

    Congratulations! You made it one week without a major project!

  5. Rayshell

    Our chickens were incredibly stupid, but man the eggs were great. I have since had friends with chicks that were not and I absolutely love them. My city doesn’t allow urban chickens, but I want them so badly for all the same reasons as your family. One bad experience with our family roost won’t stop me.

    I can’t wait to see the plans and the building! I will be sending some happy vibes your way. Congrats on the purchase and great choices.

    Yay chickens!

    • Maybe you can change your town’s laws? I know renegade poultry farmers across the nation have been rolling back outdated farming regulations in cities from coast to coast.

      Also, I have since forgiven your chickens for being so silly, and decided that it’s ok that they were more into being chickens than being friends.

      (cluck cluck)

  6. You will love them. My girls aren’t even laying yet and it’s already been worth it for the sheer entertainment value alone. I’ve got a buff orpington, a barred rock, and a hybrid sex-link of some variety. There’s a chicken category on my site if you’re interested. I’m a newbie so posted some stuff you might find useful about getting started, resources, etc, particularly around the Seattle area.

    • I’m glad that you’re enjoying your girls! I will check out your chicken adventures on your blog. They are so much fun to watch and have around, the eggs are basically the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to have a flock that will turn the compost for me!

  7. 1) This website totally scratches any itch I have in re: having this kind of lifestyle because you guys do it better than I would and write about it so interestingly.
    2) I really hope you have at least one chicken that the internet gets to name.
    3) This year I am making it to visit your urban farm if it kills me!
    4) Locally sourced frittatas!

    • 1. oh go on!
      2. We have discussed this possibility. We might have a poll of pre-approved names?
      3. Please let 2011 be the year you harvest a mouthful from my yard!
      4. hell yeah on the frittatas.

  8. Oh you’ll love them! I’m dying to have a green/blue egg layer, but our city ordinances only allow for 3. The Buff Orpington will be such a sweet addition to your flock.

  9. Pingback: Chicks & Bees @NWFGS 2011 | krista and jess

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