Meet the backyard chickens

This spring we followed a neighbour’s lead for sourcing our backyard chickens and landed ourselves with an exceedingly good looking little flock of hens.

I had brought my gardening gloves when we went to pick them up, and insisted on inspecting each one from comb to claw before placing it in our carrier. I’m sure the teenage farmhands were amused, as I checked the derriere of each hen, but I didn’t care; I was determined to bring home a healthy brood.

Urban chickens on Simple Bites

As it turns out, I couldn’t find a single thing wrong as these pullets were plump, perky and pest-free. Into the hatchback they went and soon they were scratching the grass and clover of our little urban homestead.

Backyard chickens | Simple Bites

This little flock of six pullets (meaning they are hens under one year old) have it made, I tell you. By day we let them scratch around the yard, eating greens and bugs, feed which produces their nutrient-rich eggs.

At dusk, they cozy up in the movable coop that Danny built, roosting in the rafters, safe from predators, and in the morning, lay their eggs in the nesting boxes on either end of the coop.

Urban chickens on Simple Bites #urbanchickens

Clara and I come out mid-morning and do our rounds. We stop by the garden to inspect the progress of our plots, we refill the chicken’s water pail, and we collect the eggs.

The little trap door is just Clara’s height and she gets excited every time to see what awaits inside the nesting box. These mornings, she is never disappointed.

Farm fresh eggs from urban chickens | Simple Bites #urbanchcickens

The brown eggs are quite small because the hens are still young, but they will grow over the next few weeks. Their shells are thick and healthy; good thing too, as Clara is still learning to transfer them delicately.

Farm fresh eggs in basket | Simple Bites #urbanchickens

We’ve already covered the beauty of farm fresh eggs in a previous post, but it seems like every spring, we rediscover just how delicious our own free range eggs are. I wish we could house 5x as many hens and distribute the eggs around to friends and family, but this flock is a perfect size for our backyard.

kids cleaning chicken coop. #backyardchickens #urbanchickens #hens | Simple Bites

The boys pitch in on the weekends and clean out the coop together. It’s not their favourite job, but it only takes a few minutes and they manage to have a fair bit of fun along the way. I will admit to a small sense of satisfaction in seeing them perform a task I had to do as a child!

Hopefully, knowing the effort that goes into raising food is fostering in them a greater appreciation for farmers and growers. And if not? Well, they’re learning responsibility and respect for animals. I knew there was a lesson in there somewhere.

Do you have any desire to tend a small flock of backyard chickens?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Oh my goodness! Love the coop and must admit I am a wee bit jealous. My husband is definitely not sold on chickens. His latest is the large amount of poop mess he’s heard they create. True??

    • Actually, not so much. And if they are free range, well it just fertilizes the lawn. But, yeah, it’s a good idea to be on the same page. 🙂

  2. Michelle says:

    I have been wanting to get some for awhile and this post makes me want them even more!!! I love your coop – did your husband design it on his own? Would he mind sharing his design?

  3. What a wonderful idea! I hope everything goes as smoothly as it seems to be so far. 🙂

    I’ve also read that chickens can make wonderful companions and get along great with humans.

  4. Oh yes! It makes me want to get out and buy some chickens but I don’t think that it would fly in Westmount. Makes me laugh to think what our neighbours would say!

  5. I most certainly want NEIGHBORS that have chickens! I love the idea of getting fresh eggs, but managing the coop and the cleaning… not for us. A few years back, I had a co-worker (seat-mate, really) that had chickens and a dozen gorgeous eggs showed up on my desk every week. Perfection!

    • It’s certainly not for everyone. I grew up around animals, so am not squeamish about those kinds of things!

      Sourcing local eggs sounds like a good plan for you.

  6. Auntiepatch says:

    I was attacked by a Banty hen when I was 5 and I still can’t be around birds! She ripped every shred of clothes off my back (along with my back). I’ll never have chickens in my backyard!

  7. I love your chickens! I just got my first coop tonight. My mothers name is Clara. How many chickens do you have?

  8. Michelle Bennett says:

    I love this coop – would your husband be willing to share the plans? 🙂

  9. Great post, thanks Aimee! I have an obvious question for you…so, do you get chickens just for the summer season and then return them to a farmer for the winter? I got the gist from your post that this might be the case. I’ve been thinking more and more about adding some chickens to the family, but I obviously know nothing about them!

    Thanks!

  10. Love this Aimee! They are gorgeous!

  11. We currently have 8 chicks in the a box in the living room!!! But they’re not sexed, so we’ll probably end up with 4 or 5 after we re-home any roosters.

    This is our first year with chickens. We drove around rural Quebec to buy our chicks (heritage breeds!) and meet with chicken farmers for advice, supplies and good conversation. It has been AMAZING.

    All our chicks have names. Since they’re different breeds, we can easily tell them apart. We hold them several times a day and they’re quite affectionate!

    Husband’s finishing the coop this weekend. The chicks are now about 4 weeks old and will move outside (with the heat lamp) in the next day or two.

    I love them… I’m sure I’m going to become a crazy chicken lady (rather than crazy cat lady), LOL!

  12. Also, for those wondering about the winter, it’s not so difficult to make a coop for your chickens to winter in. A bit of insulation. Heat lamp is optional—I met with farmers who use it and others who don’t—and we live in Canada! Chickens are surprisingly hardy.

  13. This is great and as usual I love how involved your children are!

    We had chickens a year or so ago but had to get rid of them. They were great and we really enjoyed them (especially the eggs!). They free ranged in our yard and then went into their coop at night on their own. The only problem was that their favorite place to poop was in our carport. Not so good. Hopefully we can get them again in the future, except next time we will probably just enclose a certain area for them to stay in. I’d really love my children to get to be a part of that experience again.

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