Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Very First Guest Blogger!

It's been a good week for us over here at HKS and today we're excited to share with you a post from our very first guest blogger.  

Lindsay is a nurse / urban farmer / knitting queen who blogs from Peterborough, Ontario where she lives with her husband, little boy, boston terrier and three rented hens.  

You can read more from Lindsay over at her blog, The Naive Homesteader
which I highly suggest you do.  


   Despite what you may hear around the water cooler, reading is bad. It gives you ideas. Ideas like wanting to grow your own food, own a rainbarrel, recycle, upcycle, repurpose, do with less and, *gasp* raise chickens. So, if you do not have an interest in raising chickens, I suggest you close your browser and return to playing Angry Birds. Go now or your backyard may soon start clucking.

     To keep the story short on why I became interested in homesteading, I'll give you three people that set me on this path - in no particular order (and don't judge...). Al Gore, Michael Pollan and Amelia Boyd (who then introduced me to Laura - who I've got a farm girl crush on). Need I explain more?
Like knitting books, I seem to have started a large collection of Homesteading books (there are hundreds of websites and blogs also available for you book haters). All of these books have a section on chicken keeping. They make it seem so...I don't know, romantic? The idea of the chickens soft clucking noises, their delicious eggs, their beautiful feathers and their super high nitrogen poop that works wonders in your compost. How can one resist?

     I'd say the hardest part of keeping urban chickens if convincing your partner that the collective 'we' need chickens. In my case, providing them with some pretty chicken pictures, a pre-fab coop, the idea of endless eggs and your inability to discuss anything else but chickens works like a charm. If that fails, try the 8 year olds famous words for animal husbandry "I'll take care of everything"! and you're good to go.
Picking an appropriate coop was a little stressful. There are many websites that will sell you plans for coops that you build yourself and well as prefab ones. The difficulty falls when you tell them you're from Canada. The discussion usually stops there when they tell you that they can't ship to you. Even if you lived in Windsor and the coop was in Detroit, they wouldn't ship it to you. Building your own coop (again, you can buy plans that make it simple) or buying one from someone you know would be the easiest route to getting a coop. I myself went the hardest route and ordered an Eglu from the UK. After a big, stressful rigamarole, it arrived safe and sound.

     You will, at some moment in your chicken aquisition adventure stop and think about your neighbours. What will they think? Will they disapprove? Will they call the city and rat you out?. All are very good questions to ask yourself. Again, in my experience, we had recently moved to a new neighbourhood the previous fall (right before human hibernation begins) so I didn't really know my new neighbours and if any of them had issues with poultry. On a chicken forum I frequent there was a whole section on 'did you ask your neighbours'? I opted to not formally ask my neighbours. I felt that asking them gave them the chance to say 'no', and my intent on informing them of my chickens was just that, to inform them, not let them give or take away my permission to do so. 
    My neighbours found out I was going to be getting chickens when they saw me in my backyard, just days before I got my hens, putting together the chicken coop. When they asked what this weird structure was that I was building, I told them. Their response was usually 'oh'? and then 'how many'? When I told them 3, they would just nod their heads and then leave me to my building. Not one person asked what the chicken by-law was in the city. They were more curious as to why I would want chickens, in which case I'd have to try hard to not say "Really? You don't want chickens'? Regardless, it would be irresponsible of me to not tell you to go and check out your city's bylaw on keeping hens. I know mine by heart.
     Okay, so you want to keep chickens, you have the coop and you may or may not have asked your neighbours. So now you need chickens. This is the easiest part. Go to your local farmers co-op. They will have a hatchery that they use and you can order day-old chicks from them. You'll be surprised at how cheap baby chickens are. They are also sexed so you don't have to worry too much about getting a rooster instead of a hen. My concern with getting chicks was that I would then have chickens until they came to a natural death. I would never classify myself as a 'non-commital' person, but when it came to poultry, I was just that. A solution to this problem came in the form renting hens. Yes, you can rent just about anything these days. I've rented my three hens from April until the snow flies. When the cold weather comes around, I bring them back to the farm where in my dreams they will live a long and happy life (though I know their life will be brought to a swift and humane end).

The co-op will also have chicken feed for you to buy. I've opted for an organic layers mash (mash was the only organic feed available) and the hens really like it. I also let them free-range in our backyard basically everyday, but if I have to keep them in their run, I make sure it's on a nice new patch of grass. In our yard they'll find grit (needed to aid in digestion), worms, insects and greens that keep them busy and happy. Plus, all of that makes their eggs super delicious and nutritious.

There's some chicken keeping 101 for you. Hope you're as excited about chickens as I am!



  1. So fun to know someone as keen as I am about poultry. When your chickens come back they will be "taken care of" and enjoyed by us in a little different way.... nice post!

  2. oh! and what exactly is a water cooler? is it a big jug of water?

  3. Yes. And apparently people flock around said jug of water to gossip (possibly about chickens).

  4. Shut up; you have chickens in the city! So interesting. Best part: "Really? You don't want chickens?" I am now looking up Toronto's by laws...

  5. Megan, check out It is pretty up to date on the status of Toronto's chicken bylaw and has a lot of general chicken information that you might find interesting. I hope you get to enjoy some chickens of your own soon!


Pin It "> Related Posts with Thumbnails Pin It