8 Things You Should Know Before You Jump On The Backyard Chicken Bandwagon

Eggs. They were good for you. They were bad for you. They are now good for you again. I think for real this time. Definitely good if you’re paleo or keto. For sure not good if you are vegan.

But what’s better than eggs? Eggs direct from the cloaca of your own chicken!

Don’t know what a cloaca is?

It’s sort of a cross between a butthole and a vagina. You’re welcome.

Be grateful I didn’t include a PHOTO.

At some point recently it became hip to have your own hens. What started the trend? I think it’s the ultimate hipster trifecta: sustainably chic/pioneering/eco-aware (or possibly just Instagram fodder).

We have four hens. Penny (original). Bucket (named for propensity to sit on buckets). Henry (I have no idea). Jimmy (again, no idea). They are Easter Eggers, which means they lay beautifully colored eggs — novel to us, alarming to any visitor who doesn’t know that chickens can lay blue eggs.

They lay four eggs a day. We either eat four eggs a day or give them to our neighbors, which is the least we can do because…


I know you think that roosters are the only loud member of the chicken family, and you are WRONG. Hens are actually very loud. The noises they make are more the cries of child(egg) birth, but they are loud nonetheless. And when one is noisy, the others are often also noisy — chicken doulas you might say. Before you know it, you’ve got a chicken childbirth chorus.

(And irritated neighbors.)

2. They eat everything.

They eat the food you give them. They eat the food you don’t give them. If you have a garden, they’ll eat that too. Plant enough to share or say goodbye to your tomatoes forever.

Goodbye tomatoes, I’ll miss you.


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3. They lay unexpectedly orange-yolked  eggs.

I mean they SHOULD. If you’re feeding them well — and let’s be real, even if you’re not feeding them well, they will feed themselves. Why are the yolks orange? I think it’s the bugs.

Don't be alarmed. (Also don't use pesticides.) 

4. They are friendly…

...but they are not dogs. Chickens are not cuddly, at ALL. They have pokey feet that are pokey, right into you. That does not mean they aren’t cute and fun and occasionally a little freaky. They make for great Instagram photos, but mostly under duress.


5. They need calcium.

If you do not give them calcium, they will lay disgusting, squishy eggs and then eat them to get the calcium you are not giving them.

It’s not hard to give them calcium, but it’s something you definitely do not want to forget, unless you want cannabalistic chickens. 

6. They dig holes.

Remember when you had a puppy and it dug holes all over your yard and you were like, “WHY DID WE GET A PUPPY? MY GAWD.”

You will say the same things about the chickens. Because they too digs holes, only a lot more than a dog because there are more of them.

I hope you like holes.

7. I also hope you like poop.

Because they poop EVERYWHERE.

I know, you know they poop. Everything poops.


A. Creatures who eat everything all the time are going to poop a LOT.

B. I know it seems like chicken poop would be small, or at least small-ish. Not so. My chickens can drop a deuce as big as our (small-ish) dog. Hate scooping poop? SORRY. Scoop it up or...

C. ... have one zillion flies. Poop = flies. Number of flies is directly proportional to number of poops. Number of flies increases exponentially with number of poops.  Chickens, in the spirit of eating everything, WILL eat flies. Chickens however, do NOT eat that many flies.

If you're prepared to pick up a metric ton of shit, share your garden/yard/patio, drive to the feed store (sorry, Amazon Prime is not yet delivering 25 pounds bag of chicken feed), explain to your neighbors why your backyard sounds like a slaughterhouse, you should definitely get some hens, there's nothing like collecting eggs from your own chicken's cloaca.

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