Thursday, December 20, 2012


I have a secret to share.  I am full of conflicting wishes and desires. 

There is a part of me that would love to try living downtown in a big city.  I think being able to walk or take some sort of light rail to museums and restaurants and shows would be amazing!  I was first drawn to downtown living when I heard about the Hancock Building in downtown Chicago.
Isn't it beautiful?  Did you know that while the first half is commercial, the top half is all residential?  Imagine being able to take an elevator to work?  To the pool?  To the grocery store?  How cool would that be?  Plus, it's relatively close to the lake which has a fantastic path for walking, jogging and just being outside (when it's not winter and freezing).
But then, there's this other side of me.  This other part that seems to be growing over the years.  I've been reading several books lately on gardening, raising animals, and backyard homesteading.  Yes, I did just say homestead.  My husband thinks I have some survivalist in me...and maybe I do.  Just a little. 
I'm intrigued by the idea of being self sufficient.  Not enough to want to do all the crazy LOT of work it would take to be entirely self sufficient, but enough to want to know how to provide for myself and my family.  And there are lots of small things I can do now while not being too survivalist-ey.
For example, I could have chickens.  I really want chickens.  I don't have chickens, but I have been reading about them lately.
My most recent read is titled Keeping Chickens.  It's also the first one I've read that focuses exclusively on chickens and it's pretty interesting.  I've learned there's an awful lot I don't know about chickens.  I do know that I don't want chickens for meat.  I think it'd be fun to have my kids help me raise them (making them pets and un-eatable) as a sort of science/life/service/responsibility project. 
I've loved the book (so far, almost done).  Of course, I don't have any actual experience trying to use the information she's providing, so I suppose I can't personally say it's accurate, but it has good reviews and seems to be pretty comprehensive. 
So comprehensive in fact that I've learned a few things I'm not sure I really wanted to know.  I mean, they are things I would need to know if I end up raising chickens, but did I really need to know that the whites of eggs are made from the mucous collected around the yolk on it's voyage through the oviduct?  Mucous is not a yummy sounding word.  Not even a little.
The book also includes some building plans.  One of them is for a cute, small coop.  I'm not sure exactly what type of coop I'd opt for, but there are so many CUTE ones out there.
Like this adorable one I found on Backyard Chickens.  Pretty great, right?  There are lots and lots of free plans and ideas online.  Even though I love the look of the permanent coops, I'm drawn to the tractor type (a coop on wheels) a little more.  Maybe because this is not our permanent home and I don't want to invest too much in something we're going to leave behind.  I also like the idea of moving the chickens around our yard and fertilizing at the very same time. 
So, what do you think?  Ever raised chickens and have some great advice for getting started?  Ever wanted to or read about it and have a great book/website/magazine to recommend?  I'm all ears!

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