Backyard chicken series part one: They had me at hello.


One day old via overnight mail

One day old via overnight mail

Part One of this three part series: “They had me at hello” tells the back story of why we ordered and how I came to love our chickens. Part Two includes the “Six things my children insist you must know before considering backyard chickens” and Part Three will be a video blog (vlog) answering any questions that have come up, and responding to why I love chickens when I have a real job, and about 5000 other things I could be doing that are a lot less expensive and equally less smelly.  In between Parts Two and Three, I’ll be offering some ideas for good Father’s Day gifts, so this all might take some time to unfold.

Still the fact is that I’ve wanted to write about chickens for a few years now, really since the postal courier delivered a slew of  them to the house and I ran around barking orders at the kids to boil water and gather sheets.  I did this because I remembered seeing it once on The Waltons, when a hyphenated-first-name person was about to give birth, and it was the best I could summon that Saturday morning when the box was peeping like crazy and I was reminded I knew nothing—let me repeat, NO THINGS– NOT one thing—at all about chickens.

We spread out a sheet on the front porch and gingerly opened the box.  There were 31 little peeping chicks, only slightly less baffled than I, a whole box full of cute.  With our order of 30 chicks from the hatchery, we received one “bonus mystery chick.”  She was taller than the others and had a yellow pom-pom on her head (it was supposed to be there).  My eldest named her Dwight, and she was well-loved for the few days of her too-short life.   A few of the other chicks died in the first week too, which comes with the territory.  We ceremoniously walked them to the temporary mausoleum in our basement—known to most people as the freezer—also containing the likes of Nibbles the beloved hamster and Leopardy the Lizard, who died from the tragic human “too much crying can lead to surprise throwing up” accident, of which we no longer speak.

nope, I don’t bathe in there anymore


Still on the porch after an hour, it occurred to me we should move the chicks to their temporary home in the bathtub upstairs—appropriately, next to the room of my one son who loves animals of every kind.  So we brought them there, layered the bottom of the tub in shavings, and let them free-range about.  The kids played classical music for them, invited their friends to come see, and had a great time with them.  And, by the kids, I mean mostly me.

I’m smiling the most (as usual) from behind the cameraI’m smiling the most (as usual) from behind the camera

A few weeks later, as our house began to threaten of permanently smelling like chicken poo, the time came to move them to their new coop in the great out of doors.  The challenge was that there was no coop in the great out of doors.  Our little poultry pals were, as it were, flying the coop—levitating themselves on tiny wing, almost reaching the top of the tub, letting us know that very soon they would be flying over the edge and spreading their precious fertilizer all over the house.  I changed the coop order to a “rush” and didn’t exhale until that midnight in July when I heard the non-muffler-sporting van of the “Amish Coop Builder” pull up the driveway and deliver our gigantic coop.  The next morning, our chicks moved to their new digs, and over the next few weeks, we built them an outdoor recreational facility complete with a fancy door and every nesting amenity.  Of course, I know now that we needn’t have gone the high-end route.  All chickens need is a place to poop, eat, poop, drink, poop, and lay eggs.  And poop. Sorry for the abundance of scatological reference, but it’s true.

We gave a number of chickens away to a local farm, and a few more to our Rabbi for her farm, and landed on the “right” number for our fancy coop: 11.  One rooster (oops), 10 hens, with Tacklo, Flat Stanley, etc., among them. We waited and waited for eggs, it seemed like forever, but it was really only six months. Again, by we, I really mean me.

Then one morning, our two younger boys came in from morning chicken duty (AKA ‘doodie’) sporting a wee little egg.  I grabbed them both up in a big, swooping mother hen hug and yelled, “MAZEL TOV!”

“Ummm… we didn’t…like…uh…lay it ourselves.  The chickens did.”

“Thank you, yes, I knew that. I am just excited!”

By now, I had rightfully embraced my new nickname: “Chicken Lady”—or, as our youngest says, “Chicken Wady.” Someone came up with it the day we noticed that one of the chicks had a backwards-pointing foot. I started calling her Backwards Leggie  and took her to the vet, where she cost us approximately 144.5 times our original investment.  Against my better judgment, I developed a liking for Backwards Leggie. I started bringing her in the house and feeding her yogurt from a spoon and letting her watch movies with us.  She liked Bruce Almighty the best.

All of this leads me down the inevitable course of this chicken scratch. What took me so long to write about our chickens? I haven’t written about them because they are, well, chickens. I am too busy with more important things to have the time, or allow myself the frivolity, of writing about them—especially when there are grocery lists and task lists yet to write with items of much more urgency on them (like changing the toilet paper rolls).

And yet, I am one to revel in the small things, falling madly in consumption with the latest thing I am into—baking fudge, knitting, sewing my kids’ clothes, cake decorating, card making, Zumba®, etc.  My friends call it my “phases” and mark time accordingly. “Oh, that happened during the banana bread phase,” they say. Or “my muffler went during the summer of vinyasa yoga and decorative gel nails.”

Who allows for love of the small things, in a world so full of big things that need attention?  Not me. I am among the working moms with too much kid stuff, too much work, too much to accomplish, too many things I already feel sorry about not doing well or fully. So I hide my love of the small things, allowing it only to leak out in the unguarded enthusiasm for which I’m known.  That’s just a character trait, after all, yes? And it holds firm the distance between whatever little thing I’m into and my impending love for it.

But then, a week aKauai Rooster Chickengo, a good friend gave me a copy of Alice Walker’s new book, The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories. It lent instant legitimacy to my writing about my chickens. Who would not see it as cool to share a hobby with Alice Walker?  Now, suddenly, I have chicken cred.

Reading this book, I was instantly freed from the need to restrain myself from the truth: I love these chickens.  I just do. And it’s not just because they help feed our big family.  It’s because they’re funny and beautiful and endearing.  They are unfettered and live a simple life.  They are not picky eaters, and they poop on their own food, which makes them pretty dang lowbrow. They are not trying to impress.  But they do lay an egg or two a day, which I find incredibly impressive.  Then they poop on that, too, as if to say, “It’s only an egg. Let’s not get all worked up over it.”

Last Summer, Backwards Leggie got eaten by a fox. I tried not to cry, but I did. I cried over a chicken. And maybe it’s about time.  Because what the chickens have taught me is that working to not love the little things in life—trying to save up my love as if it’s only worthy of the bigger things—squanders the gift I’ve been lent in this lifetime of a loving, sometimes overbearing, mistaken, even clumsy, but giant heart.  Even with all the big and little things held inside that heart, there’s room to spare. So today, I will stop trying not to love the little things. I will just love—as my mother would have said, like it’s my J-O-B—and even more, see it as the sign of life. My life, well lived.
Please leave comments, questions and ideas about backyard chickens or anything below, and connect with us on:

Twitter @CRWomenAtWork, @debmbest and @CoreyJamisonLLC


Join the LinkedIn Group: Capital Region [email protected]


Remember: Lower the bar, and drop the guilt (today).

Share small business news, blogs and social media tips with Project Eve’s community of small business owners and entrepreneurs today. Our contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds; so whether you are a small business owner, social media strategist, financial adviser, serial entrepreneur, or write an amateur blog we urge you to contribute a blog to our 500,000+ community today. For more information, please refer to our Content Submissions Guidelines.

Add a Blog


  1. 340196 856851Hiya! Amazing weblog! I happen to be a everyday visitor to your site (somewhat more like addict ) of this internet site. Just wanted to say I appreciate your blogs and am looking forward for much more! 861189

  2. 376989 89383Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A amazing read. Ill definitely be back. 20930

  3. 873486 456611This internet web page is genuinely a walk-through for all of the information you wanted about this and didnt know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you will surely discover it. 441608

  4. 382646 49502Aw, it was a really very good post. In concept I ought to put in writing similar to this additionally – spending time and actual effort to manufacture a excellent article but exactly what do I say I procrastinate alot and no indicates uncover a strategy to go carried out. 897851

  5. 950810 534813I cannot thank you fully for the blogposts on your web page. I know you placed lots of time and effort into all of them and hope you know how considerably I appreciate it. I hope I will do precisely exactly the same for another individual at some point. Palm Beach Condos 336023

  6. 827302 30356I identified your weblog website on google and check a couple of of your early posts. Proceed to sustain up the very good operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking for ahead to reading extra from you later on! 59130

  7. This original blog is without a doubt informative and cool. I’ve discovered countless helpful input using this source. I ad love to soon give back again. Thanks a complete lot!

  8. You presented some honourable considerations quality. I regarded on the web for the issue and located a lot of people will go as well as together with your website.

  9. 484534 152715The the next occasion Someone said a weblog, Hopefully so it doesnt disappoint me approximately this. What im saying is, I know it was my choice to read, but I truly thought youd have something interesting to express. All I hear is often numerous whining about something which you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention. 452011

  10. 226233 480473I enjoy the appear of your internet site. I lately built mine and I was seeking for some design concepts and you gave me a few. May I ask you whether you developed the internet site by youself? 491633

  11. 40205 360496Very best folks messages are meant to charm allow honor toward groom and bride. Newbie speakers in front of excessive locations ought to generally our own gold colored dominate in presenting and public speaking, which is to be individual interests home. finest man speach 742875

  12. I have discovered some significant things through your blog post post. One other stuff I would like to say is that there are numerous games on the market designed particularly for toddler age little ones. They include things like pattern identification, colors, animals, and patterns. These generally focus on familiarization as opposed to memorization. This helps to keep little ones engaged without having a sensation like they are learning. Thanks


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here