I am from a family of gardeners, and I like the idea of gardening, but I don’t have much personal experience to reflect on. I’ve read a lot of books about gardening, and I know the names of plants. I know things, but it doesn’t make up for a lifetime of knowledge gained by getting your hands dirty.
I lived in New Mexico for a little while and I fell in love with some sheep. They were Navajo sheep, and they spent their days in a field next to my little house on wheels in a Gila Hot Springs campground a few miles from the National Park and the cave dwellings. Around the same time, I was in Silver City for the day and I came across this book called “Country Women Anthology”, a collection of articles about rural life written as a kind of “back to the land” how-to book for women. It included all kinds of articles on buying land, building a homestead, digging a outhouse, chainsaw maintenance, and raising animals. I lived next to this pasture of beautiful sheep, and I laid in the sun reading this book, and I got all sorts of ideas about what I wanted the rest of my life to look like.
That was five years ago and now that I am a home owner and a mother to two small children, I have less of a burning desire to build a farm and raise animals. I live in a large old house on a 1/4 acre lot. I have a small vegetable garden and a pair of chickens, and they are all the commitment I can handle right now.
When we first moved into our house, we bought a flock of chickens from a friend of a friend. A few months later, we added some chicks. Chickens are pretty easy to care for (when things are going well) and they have nice personalities. It’s easy for my husband and I to get carried away, and we did. We ended up with 14 chickens at one point. Eggs are delicious, but no one wants to eat that many eggs. I sold quite a few to friends and family, but it wasn’t bringing in more money than we were spending on feed. 14 chickens also leave behind an awful lot of chicken poop, so our backyard was no longer a place you could walk through without your shoes on.
We sent most of our chickens to live with Jaden’s family, kept five for ourselves, but lost two to a racoon and one to disease. Just two hens is a nice number for a family of four. Two kids, two cats, two chickens, two adults. Let’s keep things even for now.