Sunday, June 17, 2012


Ashley and I have been talking for a while about getting chickens. If you look at our homestead plan, posted more than a year ago, we had even planned where they would be kept. There have been a few issues recently with raising chickens in the village, but they have mostly related to owners not keeping the coops clean and letting the chickens roam the neighborhood. We had not planned on getting the chickens for a few more years, but rumors about the possibility of losing that privilege from the village prompted us to go ahead and start the permit process now.

We had initially thought the permit would take several months to get, so we would but the chickens next year. When we talked to the village clerk, however, we found that the process was fairly short and that we might be able to get them as early as this summer. The first step in the process was to read the animal control regulations and submit an application, including drawings of the coop, which we dd a couple weeks ago. Part of the application was determining which neighbors lived within 300 feet of our property line, which we were able to do pretty easily in one evening with the help of Google. Next, the clerk would mail letters to those neighbors, and they would have two weeks to respond with objections. Then the animal control officer would inspect our property and submit a recommendation to the village board. At the next board meeting, they will decide whether to grant the permit.

Well, the two-week waiting period on the neighbors' concerns ended last Friday, with only one neighbor objecting (their objection related to odor concerns). The animal control officer visited on Saturday and we discussed with him our plan for getting rid of the waste to keep the smell down. Right now, we have a small compost pile that we will mix the waste into (chicken manure is the best compost material), and if the smell is too strong we can take the waste to a friend's farm to dispose of it. That satisfied the officer, so he will recommend that we get the permit! According to both the officer and the clerk, that pretty much guarantees we will get it!

Our application was for 12 chickens, but we only want 6 this year. We found a lot of great online resources, including the Backyard Chickens blog, which was very helpful (thanks Lisa!). We need a coop to house the chickens and a "run" to give them room outside of the coop. Because we are in the village, we wanted the run to be well-enclosed. There were lots of coops and coop kits online, but most of them were very expensive (upwards of $1,500) and didn't include an attached run. However, Ashley was able to find, and we bought a coop and attached run large enough for six chickens for only $750! We will buy a matching coop next year for the other six chickens.

Rhode Island RedBarred RockColumbian Wyandotte

After the animal control officer gave us the green light yesterday, we went to Meyer Hatchery, which sells chicks, fertilized eggs, and game birds, including ducks and pheasants! We purchased two each of Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, and Columbian Wyandotte chicks. All three breeds are dual-purpose (meaning for eggs and meat) and lay brown eggs (brown layers are for cooler climates and white layers are foor warmer climates). All six are female, as roosters are not allowed by the permit. The chicks will hatch on Monday or Tuesday, and they will ship them overnight when the chicks are one day old, so we should receive them on Wednesday or Thursday! We already have a box with pine shavings and a heat lamp for when they arrive. Chicks need to be kept very warm, starting at 95°F for the first week and decreasing 5°F each week until they are 6–8 weeks old (when they get their feathers). The corners of the box have been rounded to keep the chicks from smothering each other when they huddle.

That's pretty much all I had to say this week. We will post pictures of the chicks when they arrive and will keep posting as they grow up. The garden is doing well; we trimmed back the blackberries last week (that's an entire post on its own) and thinned out the corn. Most of our beans got eaten by squirrels, so I will have to plant new seeds. Last weekend Ashley made a strawberry-rhubarb pie, with fresh strawberries and rhubarb from the garden! It was delicious, and blackberries won't be very far behind!


  1. Very cool, Aaron! Sounds like you two are having fun learning what it takes to feed yourself and maintain that lifestyle. The garden looks great this year, too! Keep at it. You will continue to reap the rewards for the rest of your lives.

  2. Aaron, can't believe you have to get a permit to have chickens. Do you need a permit to get a dog? Because chickens are better neighbors than dogs. They are quieter and your coop will smell much better than dog poop LOL! It is not hard to keep the coop clean and this might sound gross - only "fresh" chicken poop smells bad. Once it dries out a bit (just a few hours) it doesn't smell at all. Your compost pile shouldn't cause any problems. Since your neighbor objected, I hope they don't suddenly develop very sensitive noses. Or, they might see your example and decide they want fresh eggs for themselves! I love your little coop and I'm glad you were able to find one for a good price. It's actually not a bad idea to have two separate flocks of chickens. The two groups don't have to mingle and in the future you could put something else (like turkeys, pheasants, etc.) in the 2nd coop.