I have basically won every pet argument my hubs and I have ever had…including the birds that call our backyard home. But, why chickens? Because this lady here is generally allergic to everything living, including the 3 dogs and 3 cats we had at the time the chicken idea was born. So it made complete sense; we couldn’t get any more dogs or cats, but I wasn’t, by some miracle, allergic to chickens or eggs. So rationale would have it that it just made sense that our next set of pets would be so awesome that they literally make breakfast.
As of this year, we have raised three sets of chicks on our own, built two brooders, converted one shed into a coop, and built one run and an expansion off of that. And let me tell you, if we lived one toe out of the city you better believe we would have a few more chickens and a lot more projects. I am totally not here to convince you to jump on the backyard chicken bandwagon…we did it before it was trendy. But, I will tell you that I have convinced more people to have them than not because when you are passionate about something that kind of feeling and excitement is just plain contagious.
We live in Wisconsin, so we do research before getting any new breed so that they can weather the winter well, carefully monitor their coop and everything that goes in there, including treats, and try to hand raise each batch of chicks so they are more like golden retrievers than descendants of dinosaurs. Our last batch was our group of white silkies. These ladies probably get the most attention on social media because they are the fluffiest, most awkward and easy-going batch we’ve had. They run funny with their feathery feet, fight between themselves because that’s what siblings do, and take way too many dirt baths to keep their pristine white fluff in primo condition.
I could go on and on…but I am going to do a quick Q & A for the most frequently asked questions below…for all of you that just wonder and for those of you that will read this and start planning out the perfect plot for chickens to erect once spring arrives.
Q. Are you in the city?
A. Yup! Each city has ordinances regarding livestock and fowl; and if not, you can petition to write them. Just check your local government for the rules.
Q. Do you heat the coop?
A. Nope…chickens do all their own heating and cooling through their feathers.
Q. What do they eat?
A. We buy ours the organic chicken feed. Some of their favorite treats are dried mealworms and dandelion leaves. But their absolute favorites are cilantro stems and strawberry tops!
Q. How many eggs do you get?
A. Chickens lay really well up to 3 years and slow down after that. They also slow down in winter when they use energy to keep warm and during their first big molt around 18 months. Other than that, the breed will define how large an egg and how frequent they lay. Think an average of 1 egg a day per chicken at the peak of their performance.
Q. How did you plan your coop?
A. GOOGLE. And we had a shed on our property in the perfect spot already. So we modified that…insulated, ventilated, added a chicken door and windows and built a run off the front and the side. We modified old cabinetry that we mounted to the inside for storage and nesting boxes as well. Trust me when I say there are a million different ways to set up a coop and more than enough free plans online to get you started building your own chicken Taj Mahal.
Q. What happens after they stop laying eggs?
A. Nothing. No, we are not going to eat them or send them to pasture. They still serve a purpose and there is a chicken hierarchy…its literally called THE PECKING ORDER. Because our coop runs well and they are our pets. They will just continue to live in the coop and help keep the peace between the new ones…the silkies are still like puppies and need a little extra help knowing how to act.
Believe me when I say we get that last question A LOT. I guess it is just human nature to wonder whether or not we will end up eating our pets. Short and long answer to that is NO. It’s not our thing, we just never really had an interest in raising meat birds…although I wouldn’t say no to you inviting me to Buffalo Wild Wings. And when asked if we would do it all over again, I would say YES. If you ever meet my hubs in person, he will tell you no…but just search his browser history and you’ll find chicken swings, backyard run, coop expansion, and can I feed my chicken XYZ. So secretly he loves each and every one of our feathery friends, including these fluffy ladies with the awkward swagger.
If you are thinking about chickens, keep going! If I missed a question, let me know. If you made it this far through all the chicken fodder, bless you! And, if you just want to live vicariously through us and our backyard pets, thats great too...
Stay...In The Moment
There are very few things I run screaming from, but our kitchen before the remodel was a close one. Everything needed a cosmetic lift; from the plexiglass mounted over the heavy weight wallpaper to the apartment-size sink which was more shallow than a baby pool. Not to mention the sizing was off; there was no triangle of space to prep food and clean up and the tile under our feet had a settling crack that ran the distance of the room. And with three small children this is where we literally spend half our time…because kids, especially boys, have hollow legs and they swallow everything whole and in mass quantities.
But this kitchen taught me a few hard lessons about perseverance and patience and reaffirmed what I already knew, I am stronger than I look. It may not be a love of design, home repair, or décor that drives us, but in us we all have those characteristics. It just sometimes takes a really big challenge to bring it all out. And if we aren’t careful, it’s easy for us to compare and forget how far we have come. It truly is about the journey, for in that we find out who we are and who we still want to be…and those challenges are often times the vehicle to get us there, whether we like it or not. Case in point…I did not like this kitchen.
What I do like now about the kitchen most isn’t the after photo either. It’s remembering how I ended up having to remove the tile when my hubs threw his back out in the middle of demo, the way I learned to tile with heavy, oversized porcelain, how I taught myself how to skim coat to cover all the damage from the wallpaper, and the process where my hubs and I learned to trust each other, flex with our opinions, and rally together to get it all done.
It’s never a great idea to live in the past, but sometimes it’s nice to visit to see how far we’ve come. And when I need to do that, be reminded of all the amazing possibilities that are sometimes hard to see, all I have to do is look at the before photos of this kitchen. Because if this space can do anything, it can remind me that it’s never about where you start…but rather the journey to where you will end up that makes all the difference.
Stay...In The Moment,
So it seems as though I am already planning for the holiday season, and fall has yet to arrive. With unseasonably high summer-like temps and unreasonable amounts of spring-like rain I don’t really know what season it feels like, but it is definitely not fall. And I am waiting for sweater weather along with the rest of you, all in the midst of planning things like ornament displays, window themes, and all our holiday events while wearing tank tops and flip flops. Let me set the record straight that I am not sad about that last part…tank tops and flip flops may just be my love language.
And with that, so is the upcoming holiday season…I love giving and all the warm, fuzzy feels that it brings. What makes it even better is that I get to do it all two-fold…at home and in the shop. Double everything…double decorating, quadruple the trees, and twice the celebrating!
If you are one of those that enjoy all of that too, our VIP Holiday Event on November 8th is also LIVE as of yesterday. If you joined us last year, you can expect DOUBLE everything this year! Our swag bags are bigger, we have an attendance raffle for that evening, and our vendors are pulling out all the stops to bring you one good, cozy evening of fun, friends, and maybe a few extras…
refreshments, beverages, and all the warmth of the season that gets you past the weather and into the full joy of the season. If you missed it last year, we’d love to have you…our doors are locked except for our VIP guests, you get first dibs on all the seasonal goodies, and a relaxing start to the most wonderful time of the year!
We hope to see you there, and regardless of the weather all our new sweaters will be out in full force for that event… cheers to that! And if you are looking for tickets to the VIP event...hit the SHOP tab or head to Facebook for all our details on the 2019 VIP Holiday Event and 2019 Holiday Open House.
Stay...In The Moment
Jennifer Kalista is the face behind In The Moment Restorations offering everything from the likes of design services and paint color recommendations, to custom furniture restoration and handpicked home decor, lifestyle goods, apparel and more.