Meet the Chickens

One of my projects this year has been getting “Operation Hen House” up and running. With the completion of our house for the hens in the side yard and the screened in chicken run attached to it, we became the proud “parents” of 5 teenage chickens. They have not yet begun to lay.

All credit for Operation Hen House, goes to the amazing Patrick, who built the house and its accompanying screened in yard and helped me with a bunch of other parts of this project. Patrick is the consummate farmer and builder and my family quickly fell in love with him. The boys helped him to paint the poles of the chicken run and he included them in a number of other (construction) aspects as well.

Having chickens is pretty cool. I feed them little scraps through the chicken wire quite often (their main feeder is in the hen house). They now follow me along the side yard whenever I walk through it hoping I will bestow scraps upon them. We now have 2 separate compost buckets in the kitchen, one for animal food (don’t forget the bunnies) and one for compost waste to go in our compost pile.

The other day as I was out in the garden pulling weeds and trimming overgrown greens, my husband came out to chat with me. “It’s like we live on a farm!” I exclaimed.

“No,” he retorted, “it’s not like we live on a farm, we DO live on a farm.”

Well, just to give you an idea of what it’s like over here….we live about a 10 minute walk from downtown Boulder in a lovely tree lined neighborhood where the houses are very close together. There is not a lot of space. The house takes up most of our yard, however, I do not let that deter me, I just squeeze in everything I can. We have kale where all the flowers used to be, chickens in the side yard and bunnies living inside with us. All of this on less than 1/10th of an acre.

Stay tuned for more gardening, composting, chicken rearing urban farm fun! In the meantime, head on over to Nourishing Days and their blog carnival Food Roots to see what others are sharing in regards to where their food comes from.



  1. says

    What pretty chickens you have! Raising chickens for eggs was my summer project, too. I have five 4H fair veterans who are laying and 24 youngsters who should start laying any day now.

    I can’t believe how entertaining chickens can be! I’ve been feeding mine the split cherry tomatoes. Now they beg for them. Food fights result when I toss in a bunch of wild grapes. They are a hoot.

    Hurrying to finish my second coop and run before I start a new job in Sept. Naturally, the temps have been in the 90’s here since I’ve had to dig a dozen fence post holes.

    Good luck with your flock!

  2. Tammy says

    Having chickens is one of the most healing experiences I have had in this lifetime~*~
    My toddler follows them around and says “bok bok”… It is too sweet~!!
    I also LOVE eating their eggs raw which has improved my health by leaps and bounds :)~
    much love to you and your sweet chicks!~
    (even my old hen likes when i call her a chick ;)…
    Oh~ they love to eat dry nettles, which is said to enrich and help with egg making~*~
    My chicks love when I flip over pieces of wood and their is a plethora of bugs there~ we make a good time of this in the yard~

  3. says

    Lucky you!! I love love love chickens. We just tried to have them in our backyard – it was going great. Until one cranky neighbor complained (he complains about everything). So we moved them to a local farm and go there to take care of them and collect the eggs, but it’s not the same as having them here with us.

  4. sheryl miller says


    Chickens are a great animal to have live with you!
    We have 5 here in sunny but still a bit wintery Canberra Australia.
    All of the chickens have names
    Esmae, Mrs Jessup, Hayley,Fred and Velma!
    We love them as well as the eggs they give us!
    Don’t forget to say thankyou when they lay we give ours- hulled sunflower seeds.
    Thanks for a great website with lot’s of gluten free and vegetarian ideas!
    sheryl miller

  5. Diane says

    Dear Elana,
    I am so jealouse, actually green with envy! I am a neighbor of yours in Castle Rock, CO. I live in the huge subdivision, The Meadows, with a postage stamp size backyard corner lot that was flat when we bought it but after we closed we have a 45 degree angle slope. I hate living in The Meadows so we go to Boulder for some normalcy and sanity compared to this backwater of food, politics, and intolerance known as The Meadows! Yea, I love the chickens and the coop, that would never “fly” here in Castle Rock but I am glad that you have them in Boulder! You go girl! And boys!

  6. Leila says

    They look gorgeous – congratulations! Don’t let stores try and sell you chemical stuff for them we’ve been keeping chickens for years and diatom (fossilised algae) and apple cider vinegar work just fine!

  7. Mia says

    Elana, everything looks great! My husband would agree with yours-we are quietly building our little farms…We have a small lot also but seem to manage with it, and have the motivation to do so.
    We do not have bunnies but we have a cute turtle and lots of other critters.
    Thanks for sharing your life and pics with us!

  8. says

    This is very sweet! We too use up nearly all of our yard space for our gardens and fruit trees (plus the play structure and trampoline)! We have a 1/4 acre plot where the house takes up most of the space. I have 3 garden beds on an old gravel parking space that is perfect for tomatoes and squash. The gravel holds the heat which seems to help the tomatoes grow and ripen early here in the NW – we started to get cherry tomatoes the 1st week of July! We grow lots of kale and collards like you. I accidentally found that all of the volunteer sunflowers growing in our green garden protect the greens from excess heat and sun in the middle of the summer. We have not had problems with aphids or the plants bolting, well not yet anyways.

    Tom and I were just talking about ripping up the front lawn to plant more vegetable beds. We are all having so much fun growing our own food – great learning for the kids too!

    I ordered your cookbook and just got it in the mail yesterday. It looks great! I was surprised to find a good number of egg-free recipes. I like all of the color photos! Congrats! -Ali :)

  9. says

    Elana – you and your readers will love the new book “Farm City – The Education of an Urban Farmer” by Novella Carpenter. Michael Pollan’s blurb on the back begins: “If you think the local food movement is getting a tad precious, then you’ll relish Farm City…” Chickens, ducks, turkeys, all in the ghetto! Congratulations on your new brood.

  10. says

    They are lovely! if I had my own house and yard I would have chickens in a heartbeat. I do what I can now by buying all my eggs from neighbors who have extra.

  11. says

    This is fantastic Elana! We have big plans for the next two years that include a major move back to VT, chickens, bunnies, sheep and goats. This post is lovely! Just re-affirms how much I want to have something similar! Great job!

  12. Beth says

    I wanted to have chickens and a goat, but the city does not allow it.

    I love that you are maximizing the space you do have.

  13. Brandae says

    Hi Elana,
    I just got your cookbook and am waiting for my almond flour to be delivered so I can get started – I almost cried when I found your website because my son was just diagnosed with food allergies to corn, soy, wheat, dairy, peanut, and shellfish. Your recipes are a lifesaver!
    Anyway, we have four hens that just started laying last week and are LOVING the fresh eggs. It’s great to see your set-up.

  14. says

    Wow, how cool! I live in a suburban area that currently doesn’t allow chickens, at least, not in our neighborhood. But I do have a friend that is less than 5 miles away from me that has an alpaca, sheep, and chicken farm, and so I visit her at least weekly to get fresh eggs. Once your chickens start laying and you get to enjoy those fresh eggs, you will never go back to store-bought again! They are so much happier, with their orange-yellow round yolks. Congrats, and enjoy!

  15. Penny says

    Hey Elana! Beautiful. My son and I picked up our two Light Brahma hens on the fourth of July. They are hilarious. They love zucchini, swiss chard and tomatoes, and if I let them into the garden, watch out, they attack any available zucchinis with gusto. You can cut a zucchini in half length-wise and each will eat an entire half. We’ve had fun tracking their laying habits on a kitchen calendar. Ours are Cookie and Colette. I’m another city girl urban farming in a suburban neighborhood! I do wish I could have a goat…

  16. Christianne says

    How delightful!! Do your chickens have names?
    I just read research about cows. They seem to give more milk and suffer less illnesses when they are named and when the farmer adresses them personally…
    But from the looks of it, your chickens know very well who the nourishing mother on the farm is.
    Please keep us posted, I love to hear how the cattle and the farmers are doing!
    Have a lovely day, Christianne

  17. Eve says

    Mazal tov on the chickens! I’vve been thinking about it too (a bit deterred because lots of other wildlife come through our South Boulder back yard: foxes, hawks, raccoons, skunks, last summer’s bear; and the neighbor got the mountain lion.) But we’ve been enjoying Windsor farm’s aqua eggs (from Aruacana chickens) bought at the Farmer’s Market all summer, and our New Zealand friend has been encouraging us to raise “chooks”. We want to keep hearing how it goes!

  18. says

    Ok, I am green with envy!! I would love to have chickens…and horses and even some cows. We live in Dallas and don’t even have room for a proper garden but someday my husband and I are going to buy a white house with a wrap around porch. Then, we will have chickens.

  19. says

    Your eggs will be so much better than store bought. The yolks will be almost orange.

    We haven’t gotten live chickens yet, supposedly they are not allowed here. Though our neighbor has a goat, also not allowed. So far we only have chicken garden art.

    We subscribe to the magazine Backyard Poultry. It is a nice resource and full of helpful advice.

    Enjoy those ladies!

  20. Emily says

    Cute cute cute. I love your stories and am excited to learn more about gardening and house farming! I can’t wait to do this myself wherever we end up!

  21. Melissa says


    I’m just wondering how much it costs you to feed and care for the chickens. I have thought of doing this but wondered if it would be cost effective.

  22. veggievixen says

    as long as you don’t have roosters…someone a few neighborhoods away does and it crows every morning.

  23. John says

    Many years ago my kids brought home chicks they hatched in kindergarten and over the years we kept three in suburban southern California :-)

    Your going to love the eggs when they start laying and if all of them are on you’ll get three dozen a week, can’t beat that!

  24. says

    I used to cook for a retreat that is also a farm and they have many chickens that supply the farm with eggs. There is nothing compared to fresh farm eggs! My husband and I plan on doing the same thing you’re doing – we don’t have much space either, but plan on getting chickens within a year.

  25. says

    I love this! I really hope to have chickens soon. Our garden is taking up much of our rented backyard and time for now, but someday…

    This would make a perfect contribution to Food Roots tomorrow.

  26. Linda says

    Aww..this post brought back childhood memories. I miss going to the hen house to get warm brown eggs for either cooking or baking. Thanks for sharing.

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