Backyard Chicken Farm

Posted on November 29th, 2010 by Tonia 10 Comments

As you all know by now- because I basically never stop blabbering on about it- we live on a little hobby farm as of a month ago.  This new and exciting chapter of our lives is going to effect the blog in big ways.

We used to discuss how to cut back waste and minimize our impact while living relatively “normal” urban lives.  But since the urban bit is no longer part of the story, the blog will naturally be focusing more and more on rural life, subsistence farming, and of course as always, low-impact living.

So, today, I am so excited to present our first real farm-focused post, written by…well, actually she does a great job introducing herself, so I’ll just get out of the way and let her do the talking.

Welcome to the IttyBitty chicken tutorial!


My name is Beth, and I am the proprietor of a small and completely over-funded corner of the internet called six orange carrots. My husband and I live on a small, adorably weedy half-acre in semi-urban California, where we grow our own vegetables, cook food obsessively from scratch and raise our own chickens.

Full disclosure, this isn’t the first tutorial Tonia has asked me to do for IttyBitty. We’ve talked about my limited adventures in worm farming, composting, and home canning, and each time I was flattered, but not sure I was the right person to pull together a tutorial. But chickens? Where chickens are concerned, I left dabbling (and moderation, self-restraint, all sensible behavior befitting an adult…) far behind long ago. I can totally do a tutorial about chickens, and I’ve been harassing Tonia for weeks to give me the chance.

{Ha! Yeah, ok, Beth! If I (Tonia) may butt in here- I was the one harassing you, not the other way around.  And I’m SO very pleased you’re doing this series on my blog!!}


Because there’s a lot to say, we’re planning on doing this in installments. Here in this post I want to talk about my experience as a backyard chicken farmer, why I chose to become one and the reasons I think you might enjoy it yourself. Then moving forward, we’ll cover:

  • Building a coop and gathering supplies
  • Choosing, finding and buying your chickens
  • Raising baby chicks
  • Caring for your laying flock

In addition, Tonia’s been kind enough to set up an FAQ page here, which has few starter questions that we’ll add to as we go.

Why chickens?

A good question to start with. Though they are surprisingly easy and rewarding pets, the most common answer is eggs!

Delicious, delicious, delicious eggs. However, given that a dozen eggs is clearly something you can find in your corner supermarket, the real question might be: Why go to the trouble of raising chickens yourself?

See the FAQ page for more about this, but eggs you raise yourself are tastier, better for the environment, kinder (x 1,000,000) to the chickens that lay them, and are actually more nutritious than eggs you buy in the store. This year’s salmonella epidemic brought the low standards of industrial egg production into the spotlight again, which makes it very easy to doubt the safety and humaneness of eggs widely on offer.

You could say that the goodness of your egg depends on the life of the chicken that laid it—and therein lies the part of raising chickens that’s good for your soul. They’re no Einsteins, but chickens are alert, personable animals. They talk among themselves, have distinct and occasionally hilarious personalities, and some (like the one napping on my Billy’s lap above) take obvious pleasure in human companionship. Most of all, they have an incredible capacity for pleasure and enjoyment of life—good food, their time outside, and their connection to each other.

What I thought would be a hobby has become a great and unexpected source of happiness in my life, because it comes with the knowledge that the food that sustains my family is based in happiness and health of animals we know by name. Not everyone has the space, time or inclination to add chickens to their family, and that’s completely okay. For those that can, I hope what this has meant to me will inspire you to set out on a new adventure, and that our tutorial helps you out along the way.

Thanks very much to Tonia for letting me share my hobby with you—feel free ask questions in the comments, especially if there’s something you want to make sure we cover. Until next time!


  1. […] you needed further evidence, I’m guest blogging today at the extremely excellent IttyBittyImpact on why and exactly how you should be going about getting […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dubh Linn Irish Pub, Tonia. Tonia said: #DIY Backyard Chicken Farming | Itty Bitty Impact […]

  3. I AM NOT GETTING CHICKENS. but. wow. you almost have me convinced.

  4. Melissa says:

    Well, let me just say that I have total chicken envy! Beth is my hero! Now that I’ve found your little corner of the world, I am overly inspired to follow my inner yearnings of farming, gardening, and chicken lover dreams!

  5. Tonia says:

    Yay! Do it! Beth is my hero too. 😀 We’re getting our first flock of feathered friends this spring. Counting down the days!!!

  6. Kim says:

    Well I just love that the little tutorial consists of 5 beautifully written installments, each 4 pages long with appropriate figures and captions. All Hail the Chicken Queen!

  7. Amy J says:

    Beth is one of my favorite bloggers! I love reading about her chickens (and everything else) over on her blog. Oh, that we had a larger backyard, and a less beastly pup.

  8. YESSS. Beth is everyone’s favorite chicken wrangler, pickle-briner, and coveter of eBay’s finest from the 1940s. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    And btw, I just featured silver-laced wyandottes (and a pic of Beth’s beautiful ‘dotte) in my holiday gift guide 😉

  9. […] while back, Beth wrote a guest post about raising chickens at home. Well, tomorrow she’s back over here to expand on the subject […]

  10. How I wish I have a backyard where I can raise chickens on my own but because we’re just renting an apartment unit I just make sure I buy humanely-raised and antibiotic-free chicken and eggs. I use Free Bird antibiotic-free chicken, meat is tender and juicy. :)

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