Happy Earth Day! Recently, Green Mama sat down with Juliet—Mother, Chicken Owner—to talk about keeping hens. A resident of the Westville neighborhood of New Haven, Juliet has been the proud “parent” of Speckles, Cookie, and Crackers since June 2012.
Juliet, you have small kids, your husband works long hours, and you do a great deal of volunteer work. Why did you add chicken ownership to your list of responsibilities?
Living in the city or suburbs, it can be hard to feel connected with nature. I wanted to make this more of a priority for my family. I also wanted us to eat better, healthier food, and to be more self-sufficient. I started with a 4’ x 12′ kitchen garden in our small yard. I started juicing. We began making more effort to enjoy hikes in New Haven’s great local parks. We started composting and became more conscious of the waste our family produces.
Slowly, these small life changes made a transition to keeping hens feel really natural and easy. I have found that stewardship over the animals is very rewarding, and it doesn’t seem to take up that much time–maybe ten minutes a day. The benefits seem well worth the effort. And it’s fun!
Let’s cover the basics. Where did you get your chickens? Where did you get supplies?
My “ladies” came from a friend in Woodbridge. He has a large lot and raised 11 birds, but determined that he didn’t want them all, so I took three. It’s great to have a friend with chickens because we care for each other’s flocks when we vacation.
My initial investment for supplies was only around $50. I bought some 2x4s and chicken wire from Lowe’s and built a coop inside the corner of my garage, with a window. Outside of the window, I fenced in an outdoor area for the chickens to run. I built a chicken ladder going up to the window from the outside, and a perch underneath the window on the inside. Every morning I simply go out and open the window unless the weather is awful, though the “gals” won’t go out in the cold or pouring rain anyway. At night, they instinctively come back in, so I simply close it and collect any eggs from the nesting box (just a milk crate).
My chicken supplies come from Agway. I recommend the galvanized hanging feeders and waterers for ease and durability. I also recommend layer feed pellets (less waste with pellets) and pine shavings for the coop floor. (Pine costs a bit more, but is clean and easiest to maintain.) You can also purchase coops at Agway or online. Read more