How to Get Started Raising Chickens in Your Backyard - Rule 1 Spousal Diplomacy

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(picture - our makeshift laundry room coop)

Michelle, who is enjoying the process of learning to garden, made the following comment;

I'dlove a post on adding chickens into the mix. We have cats. I'm not going to get rid of them. Is there a way to have chickens & cats coexist? Was your wife on board with the chickens? What are the benefits? Thanks~ :)

I'll write a series of posts in response and start with your question, "Was your wife on board with the chickens?"

I remember two years ago when I was really getting into gardening my wife caught me looking at backyard chicken books at the book store. She gasped and said, "Oh no! We are not getting chickens. I'm just getting used the compost pile." If I recall she sent email updates to our friends suggesting that I was going off the deep end, and this was just for looking at the books.

It took a while but she warmed up to the idea enough to accept the possibility that we might get some chicks last Spring. The only problem was that while I had been researching and designing our chicken coop, I wasn't even close to building it. So without knowing exactly what to do with them when we got them home, the girls and I took the leap and got the chicks. We managed to put together a makeshift cardboard coop in the laundry room upstairs. The garage was too cold. So for a month we washed our clothes, ironed our shirts and cleaned up the chicken poop, all in one convenient location.

The chickens grew quickly and started hopping out of the box. We'd find them roaming the laundry room floor. Occasionally one would go missing and we'd have to search around, finding them in some crevice or corner. The coop came together slowly and the smell of the laundry room coop grew funky. Honestly our house smelled like a barnyard and to make matters worse, both sets of parents were coming into town within a week of each other. Nancy put down her foot and said the chickens had to be out of the house before her parents got here. Once again, necessity was the mother of invention and in an act of desperation I transformed our compost box into a temporary outdoor coop.

Having navigated these early spousal challenges I think we're both united in our joy of having chickens. We had guests over the other night and the chickens came to greet our guests at the back door, peering in the window to see what was going on. Nancy and I thought it was really cute, but it was apparent that for several of our guests it was like being greeted by skunks or rats. Oh well, what can we say, we're chicken people now. Some people adore cats, others adore dogs, and some of us adore chickens. And we can say with pride that our pets make us breakfast.