Backyard Chickens Are Sustainable! And You Get Eggs.

This post was originally published for the Iowa Food and Family Project "Join My Journey". Each month Kristin Porter from Iowa Girl Eats will be visiting family farms and businesses to learn about the Iowa ingredients that make their way to our plates at home and in restaurants. She and the Iowa Food and Family Project have invited Iowa food and lifestyle bloggers to contribute to this journey. In July, Kristin and the gang are exploring eggs. Here is my contribution to the journey, which you can also read HERE.

Eggs are a protein staple in this house. Not only do they make their way in just about every baked goodie, but we've found a way to enjoy eggs for lunch and dinner - not just breakfast.

Because we go through a dozen eggs a week, and because I am always focused on cooking with fresh, healthy, locally grown ingredients, I spent about 4 months this winter working with the Marion City Council to develop and pass an urban chicken ordinance. Getting eggs from a local farmer was awesome, but I wanted to collect fresh eggs from my backyard and put those chickens to work for me, because they are great garden composters.

It was a lot of hard work, but the end result is citizens of Marion can now keep 6 laying hens in a coop in their backyard!

In March, with the help of my dad, brother, and husband, I began preparing for my chicks that I would get later in the spring. The first priority was transforming this old Ham radio storage shed that was long since abandoned on my grandparents' farm into a suitable chicken coop.

One of the big things my dad and brother did was add two nesting boxes to the outside of the coop.

Then, my husband built the attached run and added a little window to the door.

When the run was constructed, I simply waited for a warm weekend and slapped on some paint.

We have a generously sized backyard, so a small chicken coop and run won't really obstruct much, but I was worried our neighbors wouldn't like our yard birds. I was so wrong! Just yesterday I had two neighbors stop over to see the chicks and check out our set-up.

Even the weekend I got my chicks, I had a cutie patootie three-year-old helping me name them and welcome them into their tote, where they lived for a few weeks until they feathered out.

The chicks began growing so quickly, and I can hardly wait until they start laying this fall. We have 3 buff orpington and 3 barred rock, and while we might expect about 6 eggs a day from this little flock, I still buy eggs locally. 

For those people who have the desire and a little initiative, keeping backyard chickens is an easy way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Chickens are perfect for the city, too. A small flock doesn't need a lot of space; a run like ours is perfect, although we'll let them free-range around the yard when they're bigger.

 Chicks are friendly and, if handled early and often, can become quite domesticated.

And, you really don't need much to maintain your urban flock. Just a heat lamp on the chilly nights, and a feeder and waterer. An employee at a farm store can even help you pick out the feed and other essentials.

The best part of the whole experience is that each morning I can stagger out to my backyard in my pajamas and collect fresh eggs for breakfast.


  1. What a great way to reuse an old building. Your coop and run look great. Aren't fresh eggs amazing? And chickens have such great personalities. I love mine. Enjoy your eggs.

  2. Good for you! My sister did that, then they got overturned, so they are moving to the country so they don't have to part with the chickens. We are thankful everyday for the golden eggs they leave us. Howdy from one chicken chick to another!


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