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Haven’t you heard? Just look at the flood of media coverage, and you’ll soon discover that chickens are making themselves at home in neighborhoods all across the country, embraced and lauded as good pets and a source for sustainable, nutritious food.

Our very own book Keeping Chickens, part of the Homemade Living series, offers up helpful guidance to those new to the backyard chicken experience. Packed with must-know details, inspiring photos, and even some delicious egg-centric recipes, it’s fast becoming one of the hottest go-to guides on the topic. In light of our bird-themed blogiversary, I thought it would be fun to check in with author, Ashley English, with some questions about her own flock and her experiences with the chickens book.

Q: How many chickens do you own now, and do you have plans to get more?

A: At present, I own 4 hens. I’m actively in the process of acquiring more. We’d like our flock to ultimately be at around 10-12 chickens. That way, we’re less likely to run out of eggs, which often happens now.

Q: I know it’s hard to choose, but what’s your favorite way to use your chickens’ eggs?

A: Oh, wow. It really is hard to choose! If forced to select a favorite, though, I’d probably have to say just simple scrambled eggs are my favorite way of using my flock’s eggs. We cook them “low and slow,” meaning that we whisk them together and then cook them slowly over low heat, while continuously stirring. This method makes the most delicious scrambled eggs: soft, pillowy and full of flavor.

Q: What do you most often hear from readers of your book, Keeping Chickens?

A: Folks often write asking how they can acquire chickens in their area. For such questions, I encourage people to seek out local backyard chicken-keeping clubs, scour the classifieds (both print and online; Craigslist is a great resource), and ask purveyors of locally sold fresh eggs if they have birds for sale or perhaps know someone who might.

Q: In hindsight is there anything you would do differently now that you’re a more experienced chicken momma?

A: I’d have fortified my coop against predators even further. My situation is somewhat unique, living back in a dense, undeveloped forest as I do. I thought I’d predator-proofed it adequately, but some very clever raccoons (or, a raccoon), discovered means of accessing the coop (via scaling the fencing). We’ve since turned it into “Chicken Fort Knox,” with barbed wire and a serious of coops within the coop. If I’d known at the onset just how wiley (and smart!) these raccoons could be, I’d have begun with a coop as well fortified as it currently is.

Q: Several years into owning chickens and a year and a half after the publication of your book, have there been any stand-out surprises for you in chicken ownership?

A: Nothing really stands out, aside from just how easy it is. After your coop is secure, it’s really just a matter of providing food and water, and staying on top of regular coop maintenance. The reward is a happy, clucking flock and fresh, nutritious, scrumptious eggs. It’s a win-win scenario for all parties!

For more wisdom from Ashley, check out these great blog posts she’s written on the topic of backyard chickens:

Design Sponge: Keeping Chickens

Small Measures: Chickening Out / Keeping Chickens Preview

Small Measure: An Ounce of Prevention / Winter Chicken Care

Small Measure: Stating the Obvious / Knowing Where Your Eggs Come From

 
 
 
 

6 Responses

    Suze says:

    After growing up on a farm with a farm flock of chickens, i.e. not commercial, I can’t get over the delight people feel about having personal flock of chickens. Can’t get into either. This is one hobby that is not for me!

    Anonymous says:

    Suze, having visited my grandmother’s farm with her large flock of chickens, I can understand your feelings.  But now that we have our own small flock, whom we love and interact with, I can say it is a completely different experience.  When they are treated as individuals, their personalities shine.  Our chickens are so much fun, and consider themselves every bit as much a part of the family as our dogs–they follow the dogs, and line up with them at the back door waiting for us.  I have never before had such consistently cheery company.  It’s a very different relationship than the one my grandma had with her girls, whom she tended to but didn’t (seem to) love. 

    Chris & Skip says:

    Keeping Chickens inspired me and my neighbors to join forces to share a flock among three families. Works great, we can rely on someone in the group to do our share of chores if we decide to take off for the weekend. 

    One very important thing we would do differently is make sure new chickens come from a reliable source and are guaranteed to be free of disease. Ours were born with two viruses very common to chickens, MS/MG. And while the virus does not affect humans or quality of eggs, they have been costly and challenging to eradicate. I urge everyone to to make sure your birds come to you vaccinated. Would have saved us lots of stress.   

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