Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Too "Chicken" for Chickens?

Just recently, my mind has been once again drawn to the thought of keeping chickens. I don't know why, but the idea of keeping my own hens and having farm fresh eggs has always appealed. It was one of the "To Do's" on my list of life changes that would occur once we had moved to the countryside and were living our bucolic dream.
There are several predictable things that most 'ex-Townies' assume are bound by law when they embark on a new life in the countryside. First off, you 'must get a dog' - well we did that - and he's absolutely gorgeous - a Jack Russell Terrier called Byron. We couldn't imaging life without him, and to be honest, I can hardly imagine my life before he arrived. That part of our life has been renamed "B.C." (i.e. Before Chaos!)
Another 'law' is to master the art of baking. Well....let's just say that I do bake...a lot! But the words 'Master', 'Art' and 'baking' do not sit comfortably in the same sentence when applied to my creations. Suffice to say that my cakes usually taste as they are meant to - I think - but winning a 'Best in Show' rosette at the village fete is something that will probably never happen. (Alas bribing the Vicar doesn't work - his pantry is already literally heaving with 'generous gifts' of Women's Institute homemade rhubarb and potato wine - I checked...he uses it to run his mower...)
Growing fruit and vegetables is another 'Must Do' for country living. We have apples, plums and blueberries, and I have attempted pumpkins and broad beans with varying degrees of success. However, this is the year that I turn 'serious' with my vegetable growing. This, my friends, is the year that I install my raised bed, formal potager! (But more of that in another post...)
But it must be said that the greatest prize of them all, the "piece de resistance" of country life and a true testament that one has evolved into a true country dweller - is to keep chickens! I arrived at Hill House with all guns blazing amidst plans for intricate chicken houses, runs and feeding stations. Two years down the line and not a cluck. The children are becoming increasingly agitated that their dreams of pre-breakfast egg collecting will never materialise. We've even decided on names for our 'fantasy chickens' in advance - Mrs. Cluckington, Dame Eggna and Penelope Pluck...
So what's stopping me? I've bought and read numerous books on the subject. I've studied the internet for the most attractive (and yes practical, hygenic AND secure) hen houses and runs, and I've scoured the 'Land of Blog' to find out other peoples perspectives on keeping chickens and the pros and cons, the successes and disasters etc...
I think that ultimately, I know that once I commit - there's no going back. I know that beyond the initial throws of excitement in the first few weeks, my early morning helpers are unlikely to hold fast to their offers of poop clearing assistance. I'm thinking - "will I want to be looking after chickens in the depths of Winter" (my chicken thoughts always start in Spring!)
And what about the chickens themselves - will they destroy my beautiful lawn, will the dog think that Christmas has come early and enjoy the delights of Mrs. Cluckington for lunch. Will they encourage rats. Will they be noisy, smelly, diseased - or Heaven forbid - will they die!?
Or perhaps I'm just not a natural 'chicken keeper' and should stick to Waitrose... Any thoughts?
Images courtesy of; 1) Madonna by Tim Walker for Vogue; 2)Chicken coop William Sonoma; 3)Elizabeth Hurley by Jonathan Bookalill; 4)Kate Spade Home; 5)Marina Hanbury for Tatler; 6)Duchess of Devonshire by Bruce Webber; 7)Julien Clary's garden for The Telegraph; 8)Cecilia Dean for Harpers Bazaar; 9)Madonna for D&G; 10)The Guardian - Alamy
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46 comments

  1. country living sounds like bliss. i love living in the city, but i could definitely live the country life. i think having chickens would be fun :) x

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  2. Lovely babe! Let`s follow each other!
    xoxo

    FashionSpot.ro

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  3. Paula girl, you make me laugh! Loved this one again, and like you, I'm a fellow city girl, living in a village but not really country, so no chickens for us in an apartment...
    I think you should try chicken sitting, trying to babysit someone else's chickens for the holiday or so, that way the kids have a hands on experience and you don't have the mess or worries. Thanks for this post, again, too funny! Maureen x
    (I posted not so long ago about chickens, have you read Tilly's Nest? great info blog about, guess what...)

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  4. I have this same quandry although alas I am not in the country! One of our ideas was to have chickens in our city garden but we haven't progressed very far from the dreaming stage; I'm worried about the amount of growing space I will have to sacrifice and the idea of redmite does not fill me with glee. But it's still nice to dream...

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  5. I have to smile at this post Paula, get some chickens. The kids will enjoy them, you'll love the fresh eggs and they're easier to keep then you think. I've had them and love them but be sure they have a very safe home for at night. We unfortunately have way to many fox and coyote and they thought my chickens were dinner....sorry my friends. Chickens will stay in your yard without a run but they will make mince meat out of your gardens. I say go for the chickens but make sure they're safe at night.

    XX
    Debra~

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  6. I adore that photo of the Duchess of Devonshire! Have you noticed that her last few book covers have all featured chickens? As she's one of the most stylish women of her generation (and quite possibly mine and my mother's too), I suspect she'll start a chicken trend before too long, if she hasn't already.
    Did you know that Martha Stewart (reportedly) has chickens that match her horses and cattle? Apparently that's what you do now. Colour co-ordinate your animals... (My friend has black and white chickens to match her Belted Galloway cattle.)
    The newest chicken trend in Australia is to get those ones that lay Tiffany blue eggs. Imagine cracking open those at the breakfast table?
    Another lovely post. All your posts are so witty and wonderful. Oh, I want some chickens now too!
    Janelle McCulloch

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  7. Love this post! Love the pics you chose. So whimsical, especially the model in the see through dress with the nutty hair and rain boots. Love it, think I want to put that on my bucket list (walk through a farm dressed like that!)
    In regards to raising chickens, I would go for it. Where I live it is fairly common to see chickens roaming around people's yards, always puts a smile on my face. Also there is nothing better than fresh eggs. They are not the tidiest of creatures or quiet for that matter. Sounds like kids but with feathers!
    XO

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  8. Fun post! I too think about raising chickens, but I haven't gotten past the thinking part. :)

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  9. I'd love some chickens, but sadly my gardens are just too small. I have been on a day hen keeping course which I found very informative and fun! Hope you get yours soon :o)
    Rose H

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  10. Do it, Paula!! Get some chix! Think of all the fun Byron would have chasing them around. Just kidding....wouldn't want Byron or chix getting hurt.

    So, I've been following your blog for a little while now....want to say you have a gift with words. I LOVE your writing, and think you should do a book. I always look forward to reading your comments on my blog. You could devote a chapter to the chickens at Hill House ;-)

    Thank you for another lovely read.
    Hugs,
    Loi

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  11. I loved this post! so me! and your images are fab! Also, agree with Loi, you should write a book - SERIOUSLY! You have a real talent for writing Paula. Re chickens - When you move to the country from the city you do have this idyllic picture in your head of rural bliss. we got the dog too and I've started baking etc!!!! It's just living the dream I suppose! and yes I too want chickens but my husband is reluctant giving your reasons above. I still want chickens though and lovely fresh eggs! So I've got to work on him a little more! I think you should go for it! We can learn together.

    Sharon
    xxxx

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  12. Thank you Paula for leaving such a wonderful comment on my blog. I must agree with Loi about your writing skills, loved reading it. I must say we thought about chickens too and all your points why not to have them were on my list as well. So we will remain chickenless for this year at least.... ;)

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  13. I love your ramblings, I did the same when we lived in Cornwall, chickens at the bottom of the garden or not? living next door to a lovely lady who bred them, made the decision in the end, we just walked to end of our drive and bought her eggs!
    Thea x

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  14. One small question ... do you get to wear Marina Hanbury's dress to tend the chicks?

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  15. I think you should bite the bullet and get those chickens right now!!! Lucey x

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  16. Hi Paula,
    Another brilliant blog - I agree with Loi , there's definitely a book in you!!
    As for chickens - its a no from me. There's always too much else to do to commit to the chicks.
    As lovely as fresh eggs are.....
    Have a lovely day.
    Lizx

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  17. I love the images you have chosen, the Duchess of Devonshire has perfect style and I love her books. Our spaniel would chase the chickens into a frenzy, last year when we were in Scotland he dashed into a farmyard and caused chaos. The farmer was not amused. I think you should do a photo shoot at Hill House rather like Madge, try the look and see if it fits. However are Jack Russels and chickens a good combination?

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  18. Paula!!!!!!!!! First of all, I love your blog. HOLY COW, you have such fine taste. AND I think that keeping chickens would be fabulous. I can't since I live in the city! But if you are in the open country, what a wonderful treat! I have another blogger friend from Tennessee that has the most magical farm and she loves it, CHICKENS, GEESE, you name it!

    THANK YOU for your kind words and visit! I WISH YOU A FABULOUS MOTHER'S DAY !!!! Anita

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  19. Love your blog ... just stumbled upon it ... as for the chickens, GO FOR IT! They are lovely and quite easy to look after. I don't live in the country, sort of on the edge of it, and we've had them for 2 years now. Please do it, Claire xxx

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  20. Nice to meet you Paula at Hill House Diaries! I must say I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!! I LOVE CHICKENS!! Yes, you must do it! I don't have any of yet but one of items on my list was to have chicks! Times gettin away! I am putting you on my FAV BLOG LIST!! Thanks for being a follower! Checking back soon! From one sweetie to another~Roxie

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  21. Hello Paula

    Lovely post! Just go for it, I have lots of chickens and ducks it is easy to manage, much easier than the Jack Russell, Saint Bernard, Springer Spaniel and the Kune Kune pigs!

    Take care

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  22. Love this post. Go for the chickens ( I just hope you don't have foxes where you are ;-)

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  23. Hi Paula, I reckon you should get the chickens. They are not that much work. Loved this post and your blog. The hunter boots and the dress are divine. Leahx

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  24. Hello Dear Paula
    I am so glad for visiting my blog . I am following to. Thank you for your sweet comment.
    Your blog is lovely. I like the life you choose . I think is the best for everyone.
    Have a nice day (I am sure for this)
    Olympia

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  25. So happy to recover your blog! Absolutely love EVERYTHING and I'll add you immediately to my lovely blog list! I'll be back! Christa

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  26. My brother recently got some chooks from a battery farm, who were described as "past their best" at a few months old. When he first opened their traveling cage they were too scared to walk out. He coaxed them out, and introduced them to a very different life. Free to roam around the garden by day, and safely tucked up in a henhouse by night (because there are foxes even in Australia) they are now the happiest chooks imaginable. Feathers all grown back and laying eggs each day, they strut about looking for beetles and keeping the garden fertilized.

    It sounds like a blissful idea to get some of your own - I doubt you would feel hampered by them.

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  27. Hello lovely Paula, Your writings are always so delightful and interesting! You have a gift for writing! And you do make me laugh so! I enjoyed the lovely photos as well. They certainly do make keeping chickens look glamorous! I agree with you, and worry about my three dogs thinking "Christmas has come early," especially with our little toy fox terrier, Mr. Poppy. I LOVED that you refer to the time before your beloved Mr. Byron as, B.C., before chaos! :) As you said though, you can't imagine life without him! I have lived in the country for almost 6 years and have yet to get chickens, though we always said we would. I worry about the same things you do. I was quite tickled at you saying, "My chicken thoughts always start in spring!" I do love the charming names you chose for them and that is a start. I know they would provide delicious eggs for your cakes which I am sure are very yummy and pretty too! I look forward to hearing more about your potager. The chickens would help keep the bugs in check for your veggies! Thank you so much for visiting me and for your very lovely comments! Oh yes, do dust off that sewing machine and enjoy it! I am so happy your roses arrived, but I do wish the weather was more agreeable so you could plant them. If I could I would be happy to send you our heat and sunshine. I hope your day is beautiful sweet friend! Lots of love!!! xo~Paula

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  28. Paula dear, I could send you one...
    (Target Lamp) :)

    xoxo
    Dore

    O sweet Paula, this is a wonderful post, love all the photo's, Clever :)

    I so wish you had a Target as well, its a fun store for a litle bits of this and thats.

    Have an inspiring weekend,
    Happy Mothers day!

    Blessings
    Dore

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  29. Hi Paula, Hilarious and beautiful at the same time. So much fun! When I was little I had a big white rooster, Chester, that would chase me on my bike like a pet dog. All the neighborhood kids loved him. Thanks for making me remember him! You are so creative and should be writing!!

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  30. You must get chickens. Your gorgeous yard is definitely conducive to a lovely coop, and I have just the one for you. We did a post on Backen, Gillam and Kroeger Architects and one of the images was a chicken coop - seriously made us want the chickens!!

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  31. Definitely get them! I know people who have some and love it. :)

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  32. one of our chickens once died of appendicitis !!I know because I asked for an autopsy ! It's definitely possible to get carried away with chickens !:)
    Adore the pictures you found!

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  33. Hello, and thank you for your lovely comment.
    I've been have a long read here and enjoying your blog (I seriously LOVE your house), all so lovely.
    Happy weekend
    x

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  34. Dear mrs Sutton,

    Your dream is my dream too. I think holding chickens will give you lots of pleasure! Oh to have a fresh egg on your plate every morning... To hear the sound of the ladies chatting away in their hen-house or roaming the garden :-) I think it will be fun!

    The names you made up for your future ladies made me LOL!

    Happy weekend!

    Madelief x

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  35. As soon as we move from living in the city, we are going to have to get Chickens, I feel they are a must for my future happiness!
    Claire

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  36. I'm with you - I love the romantic notion of free range chickens & fresh eggs!

    Melissah from Country Style Chic

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  37. Hi There,

    Wishing you a lovely mothersday and a great weekend.

    xoxo Rozmeen

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  38. I would love chickens too and quite understand your dilemma. I am currently making do with fresh eggs from a farm down the road where the "girls" wander freely on the grass verges and around the farmyard. One day I will bite the bullet and get my own....
    Julie x
    Great choice of photos by the way.

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  39. Ola,
    Parabens,seu blog e maravilhoso,amei
    obrigada por sua visita e seu comentario
    voce e muito gentil,muito obrigada
    sou sua seguidora agora,passarei aqui sempre que possivel
    grande beijo
    Ariadne

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  40. Great post! We had chickens when I was growing up. thank you for stopping by. I am your newest follower.
    ~Clara

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  41. I've wanted to do the same too!:-). I say go for it! XX

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  42. I love your writing style ... as cute as chickens are, we have a regular urban fox who visits (probably smells our house rabbits who live in the garage) so chickens are not on ...
    Regards
    Dee at the Carlton

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  43. Mmmm, that's nothing nicer than your own eggs I think. I have 2 friends in London (border Essex) who have chickens and a friend in North Norfolk. The only concern as Dee, above, has mentioned is foxes. They did for both one of our London friends' chickens and our friends in Norfolk (sorry to bring doom and gloom into it). xx

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  44. hiya- many thanks for your comment about my naughty shoes, and for following my blog.

    Chickens are noisy, smelly, muddy in the depths of winter, heartbreaking, not-always-laying, rat encouraging, flower eating bundles of feathery nonsense, and utterly utterly addictively adorable!

    Don't think of it as a task or a must-do just think of it as a want-to and they'll help you by soon letting you know in which manner of luxury they'd like to become accustomed!

    At the moment we have 4, all rescue birds and we average 2 eggs each day throughout the year.

    They now live in a big pen so they don't totally ruin the flowers but come out to wander free if we're pottering in the garden (painting furniture!)

    They take 10 mins each morning to let out of their house (quite big so if we want a lie-in they're not bothered) clean out and feed and 5 mins in the evening to shut the henhouse door- they see themselves to bed when its dusk.

    But much more time is wasted talking, chatting to them and generally just watching them as a group of rather eccentric ladies muddling along together like the Golden Girls!

    Loads of people in blogland who'll help with any worries so go gal go!
    xx

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  45. On the plus side they are easy to keep and don't take much time to care for. They become very tame and friendly, produce eggs better than any you can buy.
    On the minus, they will eat your vegetables, the dog will want to chase them, you will need a helpful neighbour to look after them if you go away...and yes, they die.
    Having said that, two of ours are 8 years old and still laying.
    Keep them enclosed so they don't destroy your garden or fall foul of foxes and you'll enjoy them!

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  46. Ooooh I would love chickens, but so would my gardens' resident foxes and badgers! Hugs, B x

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