Monday, December 7, 2015

Best Online Resources for Chicken Keepers

The growing season is over, the harvest, ended, and wintertime is knocking on our door. For me, this means a little bit of a break. Nothing left to weed, nothing to freeze, can, or collect, my herbal medicine closet is nice and stocked, and my seed catalogs are sitting open on my bedside table. This is my time to dream and concoct and plan and set my wish list for next spring.

And next spring, I'm getting 10 more chicks. 

Now in the big picture, 10 chicks is nothing. A small, nice little amount of birds for the common backyard homesteader wanna-be. For me, however, 10 chicks is a ton. A massive amount. A bounty of possibilities, learning opportunities, and of course, eggs.

And here's the funny part: I still am a long way from knowing exactly what the heck I am doing. I'll probably lose a few birds. I will likely still muck up the butchering process a bit. Joel Salatin might shake his mighty, incredible head at me and think, "Who is this girl, and what in gosh's name is she doing with those birds?"

But I'm going to keep trying anyways. Because that's what it's all about, people. Trying, failing, and trying again. Lessons learned. Flaws, forgiven.

Thankfully, I have this little magic tool called the internet. It allows me to connect to those who started this journey long before I knew the difference between a chicken nugget and chicken meat. And with this incredible resource comes a limitless supply of information, both good and bad. Everyone has an opinion. Thankfully, only a handful of them are actually worth reading and following. What follows is my list of tried-and-true resources for all things chicken. 


These are the people who inspired me to start and motivate me to keep going. 

Justin Rhodes, author, teacher, and filmmaker at Abundant Permaculture
I found Justin back when I first started researching how to raise free-range hens. He was promoting Permaculture Chickens, his incredible film detailing everything you need to know about raising chickens, from chick to the dinner table. I backed his crowdfunding campaign as fast as my little fingers could type and received my copy of the film a few weeks ago. My 9-year-old and I watched it together and can I please tell you....there are no chicken resources like this available on the market today. Believe me. I looked. For months before I found Justin, I looked. 

Listening and watching Justin is like talking to a friend. He is super relatable and "walks the walk," backing his knowledge with a plethora of real-life experience he's earned throughout his years on his own homestead. He lives what he teaches every single day and shares the same passion most homesteader wannabes preach from the hills - self-sustainability, field to fork eating, and transparent, eco-centric living.  

Did I mention he is sharing some of his chicken videos online right now? Exclusive interviews with Joel Salatin. How to get started with chickens in one weekend. I'm serious, dear readers. It's one thing to actually know what you're talking about in this crazy world of chicken keeping. It's a completely separate thing, a gift to us newbies, to have someone so willing to share his knowledge with the world. Check him out. You will not regret it. And I can vouch for his email list.....it is never spammy. He sends these hilarious and awesome Friday lists once a week and lets you know when his new videos are out. That's it. You'd be crazy to want chickens and not want to learn from Justin.

I don't subscribe to many email lists, mainly because I hate checking my email every 5 minutes. It detracts from my down-home, one-with-nature vibe to have my little pink cell phone in my hand. Really clashes with the plaid. But I subscribe to Jill. Like Justin, Jill sends out a weekly email with a list of 5 or so homesteading tidbits she found interesting that week. Sometimes she gives out seasonal recipes, like stellar homemade eggnog recipes, sometimes she gifts her lessons on vegetarian chickens, and still other emails contain little golden nuggets of hard-earned perspective about what to do with your chickens once they stop laying. Jill has it all, and then some. Her site is FULL of awesome information about chickens and homesteading for the common, simple Jen. I mean reader. 

This is another one of those incredible multi-faceted homesteading resources I frequent on the regular. I was directed to Merissa by a friend who was looking to simplify her own life and loved the free e-book links Merissa gave out regularly. Little House Living focuses on a number of sustainable living skills, but her posts about Raising Baby Chicks, Backyard Chicken Breeds, and How to Care for Setting Hens were some of the very first articles I read about chicken keeping. Merissa is easy to follow and also lives what she teaches. I love her easy-to-follow posts and of course, all of the fuzzy, adorable chick pictures.

I don't know of a chicken owner out there who doesn't know The Chicken Chick. I had to look up her real name because honestly, all I think when I see her face is "Chicken Chick"...sorry Kathy. This lady knows everything there is to know about chickens. Bumblefoot problem? The Chicken Chick can help. Wanna make your own waterer? Chicken Chick can show you how. Broody hen problems? Let the Chicken Chick walk you through some solutions. She helped me choose which medicines to keep on hand and what chicken books I must have on my bookshelf. 

The only criticism I have of this incredible lady is that our views don't always line up. Her chickens are absolutely her babies, through and through. Mine are more a source of nutrition and food. Sometimes I read her posts and think "TO THE STEWPOT!" and I'm sure if she were to read some of my posts she'd want to slug me. Differences aside, I head to her blog when I have chicken health issues and want an expert opinion on what can be done.

Another all-in-one homesteading resource! Jessica caught my eye by way of her beautiful pins. I am a Pinterest fanatic, in case my boards haven't shown you, and her posts quickly made their way to my Green Grass Grows board for safekeeping. She is a wealth of information on all types of homesteading creatures, especially chickens. You can find info about changing chicken ordinances on her site, how to care for chickens during the snowy season, safe egg handling, and even some hilarious stories that only happen in suburban homesteading homes. Jessica is a delight to read and again, one of those places I go to for a number of my homesteader wannabe needs. 

This is my go-to place when I'm looking for others like me. I went to this site back when I couldn't figure out if my chick was a rooster or a hen, back when I didn't understand the egg song was a-ok, and back when I was scheming on ideas for my chicken hoop house. This site houses a fantastic community of chicken enthusiasts that love to share their learning experiences with the world. Great community!

Honorable Mention: Fresh Eggs Daily
Now some might argue this is the very best website for all things chicken. That might be true, but I have a bit of a tainted perspective when it comes to this site/author. Now I'm sure this isn't the norm (at least I hope it isn't) but I was quite literally bullied off the Fresh Eggs Daily Facebook page back in the beginning of my chicken-keeping journey for praising some egg producers for selling eggs in stores that are certified humane by the Humane Farm Animal Care nonprofit organization. The comments I received for supporting eggs sold in stores were stinging and bordered on harassment ....and that's coming from one tough B who can pretty much handle herself when it comes to confrontation. Not on the Fresh Eggs Daily page, though....wheweee. I was torn apart for allowing any store-bought eggs into my home, despite my (valid) argument that we all want fresh eggs for everyone, hence the need to support eggs sold in stores that align with the core values of sustainability, responsibility, and love for both animal and earth. I kid you not, I had to leave the Facebook page. I'd never met a group of more closed-minded people in my life, which is really sad, considering we all want the same thing. I thought it was important, though, to list the site here despite my bad experience, simply because I know if you can get past the pitchforks and close-minded die-hards who can't see an ally from an enemy, you're bound to find some great info. 

So there you have it folks :) My list of the best online resources for chicken keepers. I hope you would consider passing them along to someone you know who is on the fence about chicken-keeping, or even pinning this post for your reference later ;) Would love to add some chicken-loving peeps (see what I did there) to my flock (I'm on a roll!).

Would you ever consider keeping chickens? Would you be more like the Chicken Chick, keeping them as pets and babies, or like Justin, keeping them as livestock? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading!

14 comments:

  1. I would consider keeping chickens. I know my daughter would love them.

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    1. The kids have a BLAST with them! They are so cute when they're little and surprisingly resilient to kiddo shrieks of excitement :)

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  2. I wish I could. If my husband and homeowners association would let me!

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    1. They are the best. I had to convince my husband, too. And by convince, I just bought them. HAHA

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  3. I love the idea of keeping chickens, actually I love the idea of fresh eggs, good tips!
    Kari
    www.sweetteasweetie.com

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    1. Thank you Kari! I love my girls :) Can't wait to get more...and more....and more....and then....GOATS!

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  4. IF we didn't live in the extreme heat I would totally do this. I am craving getting back to our roots and living a simpler life. I may even re-do my website to reflect it. If I ever do - I'm calling you!

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    1. Right on! That's awesome!! You know chickens are actually tropical birds. They originate from the rainforest. They love the heat. Just an FYI in case you ever want to reconsider!! Many, many chicken owners live in heat!

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  5. What a great list! I've used all of them in my research for my chickens too, except for your honorable mention. I'm kind of glad I haven't come across them now. I have to admit that even though my chickens are still strictly livestock, I am becoming a crazy chicken lady. You kind of have to when your chicken insists on eating from your shoulder! Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer!! And it is so true....it's hard to not see them for the little personalities they are! Makes it so tough later when it's time to go to freezer camp! Thank you so much for stopping by :)

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  6. Great list! These are some of my favorites as well :)

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  7. You absolutely made my day. Thank you so much for your kind words!

    PS: You aren't the only one who had some pitchforks shaken in your direction with that particular group.

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    1. I am so glad to hear that!!! You are more than welcome - thank YOU for the incredible resource that is your site/life/words. And I'm glad to hear I'm not alone! I love good info and want to learn - but when people yell instead of teaching, I tend to head the other direction! Stinks for the author because I'm sure she has some wonderful things to say!

      So glad you stopped over!!!!!! :)

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