Janessa Graves, Chewelah, WA:
When we moved to Washington after getting married, Jim’s mom gave me an old copy of “The Egg and I” by Betty MacDonald, which I absolutely loved. Loved so much, in fact, that we actually searched for her old farm near Chimacum. (I’m sure we were not the first to follow “Egg and I Road” to try to find her farm!) When we moved to Chewelah, one of the requirements was that we live in a place where we could have chickens. Last summer I educated myself about the city ordinances regarding chickens to make sure we were “up to code” and went about designing the coop. I ordered chicks from a hatchery out east in late winter. When seven little chicks arrived, we were spurred into action to quickly build the coop. I directed Jim as he built the coop (he’s such a nice man). The chicks lived in our basement for the first 10 or so weeks until we moved them into their new coop. I selected breeds that were a) family friendly, b) good/very good layers, with sufficient diversity to create an interesting flock. Jim didn’t want any “small eggs,” so we don’t have any bantam chickens, although next time around, I think I’d like a few. And maybe a cute Polish. And a Silkie.
Our first hen laid a cute little egg on Dec 19 (2 days after our daughter Quinn was born) and have been laying every day since. I don’t think there’s been a day with zero eggs (but we have had several with only 1 egg). I like to collect data for lots of things in our daily life, so counting eggs was a pretty easy addition to our lives. We just keep a tally next to the coffee pot. Nothing better than fresh eggs for breakfast every day!
Editor’s note: The Huckleberry Press is happy to share stories of backyard farming successes as part of our mission to foster interaction between communities. Thank you to Janessa Graves and her family for generously sharing their experience of raising chickens. Feel free to share your experiences, successes or resources in the comments below.