Chickens? In our small backyard?
I still find it hard to believe myself. But yes, in about a month we pick up our chicks, and 6 weeks after that they will be big enough to move outside into their coop in our backyard, where they will live happy lives and provide us with fresh, organic eggs and loads of fun experiences! To say we are excited would be an under statement.
How did this get started? Well, our journey to urban chicken farming began when my husband heard an NPR segment on the subject. All it took was some interest from him and a phone call to me to talk about it. The seed was planted and growing rapidly. A week later I had researched the viability of raising a micro-flock in our small urban backyard and we decided to go for it! A coop had been ordered and research into the perfect backyard chicken breeds and where to get them began.
That first week we discovered that there are many beautiful breeds of chickens, that are docile, friendly and quiet. Yes, I never thought I’d say chickens could be beautiful…but its true! Chickens are also actually fairly low maintenance, they like to stay clean on their own and a small flock could live happily even with our small backyard.
We settled on getting 2-3 hens. We’d get plenty of eggs, gain a really enriching experience and get help in the garden with their expert bug catching skills and enhanced compost!
Besides the chickens and the benefits they bring, we wanted to be urban chicken farmers to be part of an amazing community. We moved to this area a little over a year ago and while there is lots to love and we have made some wonderful friends, we still haven’t felt really gelled with the culture/people here. But I see light now. Through my exhaustive research, I connected with the Silicon Valley Chicken group and was welcomed into a truly genuine group of people who are really lovely and eager to help fellow chicken lovers out. Very quickly, I decided I wanted to be part of this community. Score 2 for urban chicken farming!
My research has continued over the last few weeks and we have breeds picked, chicks reserved and are planning for our chicks to arrive in the middle of March. We have increased the size of our micro-flock to 4 hens! Chickens are social and need buddies, it was also hard to narrow it down to just 3, so 4 it is. That will also still leave us with enough room to add a couple more birds in the coming years should we need or want to.
We focused on breeds that would do well in a backyard setting, were known for being quiet, docile, friendly and descent layers. We also focused on heritage breeds as they need preservation and they tend to spread out their egg production over their lifetime, which is ideal for us since we are keeping them for eggs and as pets. And once I found out there were some breeds that met that criteria and produced different colored eggs, well, we had to be sure to include some of them.
Here are the breeds we selected and images of what they will look like when grown (we’ll have one of each):
Ameraucana (Easter Egger) – She may be colored differently than this picture but she will have the same form. These are sweet birds and produce gorgeous blue/blue green eggs!
Barred Plymouth Rock – Developed in New England, they are friendly, quiet, hearty, smart and good layers of large brown eggs.
Black Copper Marans – a French breed that is friendly, good at foraging and lays incredible dark chocolate brown eggs.
Blue Orpington – everyone said we needed to get an Orpington because they are the sweetest birds with tones of personality. You most commonly Buff Orpingtons, so when we had an opportunity to reserve a rare Blue Orpington chick we jumped on it!
All photos are from other sites. Our own photos will come once our chicks arrive!
In anticipation of our flock I’d like to announce a new sister blog, The Hawthorne Urban Farm (HUF), where I will post pictures, discoveries, stories and updates on our little urban farm made up of 4 city hens, small scale fruit plants and trees, herbs… and one 5.5 year old Kerry Blue Terrier, Sebastian, but he gets to sleep in the house. So look out for an updated look, and articles on all of the research I have been doing on how to get started with backyard chickens, the incredible process of breed selection and sourcing and of course, many photos and stories once our chicks arrive!