Category Archives for "chickens"

End Of An Era – An End To Suburban Chicken Farming

I’ve begun the process of removing “suburban chicken farmer” from the list of words or phrases to describe me.  Over the past few weeks, my chicken farming experiment has come to a close (at least for now).

Many of you may remember previous posts about my journey into the world of backyard chickens.  Almost three years ago, I picked up eight baby chickens from a good friend, and I built my own chicken condominium in our backyard complete with a picture window, a side door, a basement deck, a nesting box, and a 10 foot high roof (what was I thinking?).

As the chicks grew, I anxiously awaited our first egg.  I still remember checking on the chickens every day after work to see if we there was a surprise.  Eventually that day came!  What excitement!  I remember saving up the first couple of eggs, so our family could enjoy an egg dish from our own chicken eggs.  We made “eggs in a basket” – you cut holes in the middle of slices of bread and fry an egg in the hole.

Since then, we’ve enjoyed hundreds of eggs.  And yes, these eggs are way better than the eggs you buy in the store.

But no one told us about the challenges of suburban chicken farming.  Do you know that a chicken poops every eight minutes on average?  Do you know that chickens need extra light in the winter if you expect them to lay eggs?  Do you know that egg production slows down after two or three years?  Do you know that chickens need heated water in the winter?  We learned all this and more through our journey.  We also sadly learned that chickens like heat, but not extreme heat.  We lost six of our chickens last summer when temperatures hit record highs – that’s a whole other story.

At any rate, a couple of weeks ago our last two chickens were “stolen” when friends came over and took the hens for a ride to a new backyard setting.  My wife and kids had enough of this crazy experiment.  And honestly, I was finished with this little hobby as well (at least for now).  This weekend, I took down the chicken coop.  It was a little bitter-sweet as I reflected on the enthusiasm that initially went into this hobby.

And now, I can concentrate on other adventures.  Leanne, what do you think about getting a cow?  Just kidding!

What hobbies or activities have you moved away from?  What new hobbies or activities have you recently stepped into?


My wife did it!  She surprised me for my 40th birthday with a party at our house on Saturday night.  And yes, I was surprised.  She sent out invitations, contacted friends, went food shopping, and coordinated the surprise plan with our neighbors, our family, and other friends.  Nobody dropped a clue.  I showed up at our house Saturday night after a day of making Korv (a Swedish Christmas sausage) expecting to take a shower and head out with Leanne and a couple of friends to celebrate over dinner.  When I walked in the house, I was greeted with a house full of friends.  It was such a wonderful opportunity to touch base with some people who mean a lot to me.

There were many highlights to this evening, but I wanted to share a particular detail with The Stretched Community.  One of our good friends, Amy Sullens, made a cake for the party.  Amy did an incredible job representing me on the cake.  On top of the cake was a running shoe (that looked quite realistic).  The shoe obviously represents my running interest.  The Happy 40 Birthday sign on the front of the cake looked just like a runner’s race bib.  On the left side of the cake was a tent and a campfire which represents my love for camping and a couple of camping traditions that go with me each year.  There were two chickens on the back of the cake.  Yep, I still have a couple of chickens.  And finally, the right side of the cake boasted a laptop computer with Stretched by Jon Stolpe on the screen.  My blog made my cake!

All this, and the cake was delicious!

What four things would go on your cake to represent you?  They can be fun things, or you can choose to go deeper.

(If you’re interested in cakes like this, you should check out the Cake Art by Amy Facebook Page.)

The Trials and Tribulations of a Suburban Chicken Farmer

This is a picture of one of my hens from a year or two ago. Look how happy we both look!

“It’s a hot day to be a chicken and a hard day to be a chicken farmer.”

This was my post on Twitter on Friday night.

Thanks to the oppressive heat, I lost six of my eight chickens on Friday.  The other two are holding on for dear life.  As of this morning, it looks like they just might make it.

I’ve been raising chickens for the past two and a half years.  It’s been quite an undertaking.  For those of you who know my brothers and me, I would be the least likely to ever have chickens.  For some reason, the thought of having my own chickens and the fresh eggs that they produced every morning seemed so utopian three years ago.  After two and a half years, I’ve learned a lot:

–  Did you know that chickens poop once every eight minutes?  Can you imagine how much bathroom reading you could accomplish at this rate?  Obviously, this means quite a bit of clean up.

–  I read somewhere that you can power a 100 Watt light bulb for 5 hours with the energy produced by converting one chicken’s poop.  Yes, I’ve thought about how to put this to use at home.

–  Chicken manure is great for your garden – especially, tomatoes I’ve been told.  I don’t even like tomatoes!

–  Egg production is best in the summer when the days are longer.  In the winter, I’ve tried putting heat lambs and light timers in their coop to spur on further productivity.

–  Eggs from home raised chickens are clearly better than store-bought eggs.

–  It cost money to raise chickens.  While the eggs are “free”, the chicken feed and pine shavings (for bedding) add up quickly.

–  Chickens are messy animals.  Besides the poop mentioned above, they like to dig in your flower beds and garden.  I had to fence in an area for them to get them to stop destroying my yard.

–  Chickens are savage animals.  They will eat their own eggs.  Talk about driving down my production!  If we don’t get out there soon enough, they get the eggs before we do.

–  Chickens are loyal and love to be home.  When we let them roam around the yard, they always came back to their coop before night-time.

I’m sure that I’ve learned a lot more, but these are some of the key points.  Will I keep raising chickens?  Probably – but I won’t add to my flock for a little bit.  I need to do some coop modifications.  Yes, I also double as a chicken coop architect and engineer.  Perhaps, I should figure out how to get air conditioning into these hens before the next heat wave.

Do you raise chickens?  Do you have any other crazy home “projects”?  What advice or funny stories do you have to share?

Pay it Forward – Egg Style

This year, I started raising chickens.  Why?  Good question!  I guess it sounded like a good idea at the time.  A good friend of mine was generous in giving my family eggs from his own chickens and eight baby chicks.  Since the end of May when I received the baby chicks, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first eggs.  I was thinking maybe we’d see some in September, but I knew this might be a little early.  By the middle of September, I was checking the chicken coop every day to see if there were any signs of just one egg.  Well, I repeated this daily journey to the chicken coop for several weeks with the same result – no eggs yet.

Finally when I least expected in, I visited the chicken coop on Friday, October 23rd, to find my first two eggs!  That’s right, not just one – but TWO eggs!  It was such an exciting experience.  My son was present for my celebration.  I’m sure his ears were hurting after all of my “Wahooing” and carrying on.  I couldn’t contain my excitement.  After 21 weeks, we finally received our first eggs.  Since this day, we have racked up over 30 eggs.  We’ve enjoyed scrambled eggs and pancakes.  And we’ve stopped buying eggs at the grocery store.

One of the best things about this whole chicken/egg project is that I now have eggs to give to other people.  This past weekend, we gave away our first mini-carton (8 eggs) of eggs.  It is so great to pay it forward – egg style.  I’m looking forward to this opportunity for many years to come.

(If you live in the area and you’d like to be put on the waiting list for eggs, drop me a line.)

The Chicken or The Egg

chicken091709As many of you know, I’ve ventured into the world of “chicken farming.”  If you know me, this idea seems a bit crazy.  This past May, a good friend of mine gave me six Pearl White Leghorns baby chicks (they will eventually lay white eggs – nearly one a day per chicken).  He added two more Araucana baby chicks (they will lay blue or green eggs)  in late June bringing my chicken farm total to eight hens.

Besides all the fun of building the chicken coop which still needs some final touches and a coat of paint, it has been quite an adventure.  I have learned a lot so far – how much chickens poop, how to clip their wings, how fast they grow, how much they like to run around the backyard, how they establish a pecking order, and all kinds of other interesting things.

I’ve enjoyed the various banter from my Facebook friends about what to name the chickens or how to cook the chickens (which we don’t intend on eating).  More recently, I’ve been on egg watch.  I’m expecting that we will start seeing eggs real soon.

My wife is amused by the whole thing (and I think she’s secretly excited about the arrival of the first egg).  The kids have loved it.  They even named two of the chickens (I’m holding Pepper in the photo above).  And so far, I’m loving it!

Stay tuned…I’m sure you’ll hear when I get the first egg!  Until then, I’m quite certain that the chicken came before the egg.

Name That Chicken Contest

You may have heard…

We got our chickens today! Six hens (at least that’s what we’re planning). We need your help though with what we should name them. So here’s your chance to chime in. Send me your name idea as a comment to this post. We’ll choose the top 10-15 names and put it to a vote.