Diversifying the Farm…

My favorite farmer and I have been known to pontificate to our girls about the importance of diversity in the business context of our farm.  While both of us would argue that our pontifications frequently fall upon deaf ears, the girls obviously listen enough to be able to use our words to manipulate a situation!


Normally our discussions about diversification revolve around cattle, traditional and organically grown crops, and learning how to market the fruits of our farm effectively.  About a month ago, my favorite teenager announced that “in order to further diversify our farm, that our family should get layer chickens.”  After all,

“Dad always says that we should be equal opportunity barnyard supporters.”

My immediate answer was “No” as I was not looking to add to my own chore load.  Because she is a product of two very stubborn people, instead of abandoning the idea, my daughter proceeded to fully research layer hens via the internet and asking questions of chicken enthusiasts.  She impressed me with her thorough research and plan development, and the next thing that I knew she had talked her Dad into going to the lumber yard for supplies to construct a coop.AGMattcoopconstruction1.jpg



What began as a family joke metamorphed into a terrific “father-daughter” project.  The coop that Ashley Grace constructed is beautiful, functional, and should make a nice home for the 5 Rhode Island Red chicks that our family adopted Memorial Day weekend.  The “run” has yet to be constructed because the little chicks will spend the next few weeks growing in an old livestock water tank that she adapted for the chicks.


I am laughing that the new screened in porch that we built last fall is now home to the chicks instead of the patio furniture that I intended to fill it with, and I am chalking this experience up to “the things that we agree to do for our children”.  I hope that this will be a fruitful learning experience for all three of the girls, as they will be the primary caregivers for these new “food animals” at our house.

You might wonder what my favorite teenager has decided to name her new chicks…


In keeping with her “intellectual personality”, Ashley Grace named the chicks after Shakespeare characters and a Norse Mythology God:

  • Lady Macbeth (Macbeth)
  • Juliet (Romeo and Juliet)
  • Ophelia (Hamlet)
  • Moth (Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  • Loki (Norse Mythology God)

My favorite farmer is having nightmares about what she may name our future grandchildren…




Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., General

17 responses to “Diversifying the Farm…

  1. Well even if she does name the grandkids something crazy, at least it will be more intelligent and well-thought out than any of the celebrities names (Apple, North, etc)!

    • I agree, Mandy! I have “notes” on my I-phone so that I can remember which one is which — the girls, of course, have the markings of the chicks memorized…

      Everything about these chicks has been “well thought out” by Ashley Grace — she is a planner 🙂


  2. Our daughter has layers, watch they acquire more quickly!

  3. Yahhhhh… you got baby chicks… I am so proud of Ashley Grace and the beautiful coop she built. Rhode Islands will make great first time chickens, just make sure she handles them a lot as chcks and then as adults they are so much easier to catch and all when you need to, plus they are more docile and don’t peck at you when you have to get the eggs out from under them 😉 That feed trough is a great place to start raising them in 🙂 If she needs any more advice or input have her let me know again and I will be happy to help. It looks like she has it all under control though and you will all LOVE fresh eggs and will never be able to go back to store ought ones 😉 Happy laying 🙂

    • A huge thank you, Kim, for your help during this process. I loved how you helped AG and answered her questions. I am sure that there will be more as we go down this journey 🙂

      Megan took your advice and went and played with the chicks this afternoon — she came in the house snorting when she got pooped on! I had to laugh. The girls have been handling them some, but I agree that they need to keep working on it so that the birds will be tame.

      I am definitely looking forward to the eggs!

      • LOL…ya she will get a lot of poop on her but she will get used to it and learn to never handle them with her nice clothes on 😉 I am glad she is doing well with them and am so happy to have been of help 🙂

  4. How proud you must be of your thoughtful, enterprising young lady!

    My eldest daughter caught “the chicken bug” when she was five. In the ensuing twenty years, she has learned much about (and so did we by default) about poultry. Diagnosing illness, preventing disease and understanding genetics, the list of subjects learned seems endless.She and her husband now have their own small-scale breeder business, showing and selling chickens (and other poultry) and hatching eggs and she tests birds for the state. (she even sells plans for a backyard pen!)

    You just never know where a new idea may take you.

    Best wishes to your daughter in her poultry endeavor!

    • Thank you, Barbara! Your daughter certainly proved to be an entrepreneur with her “chicken bug”! That is impressive. You are correct that you “just never know where a new idea may take you”. I am very interested to see where my girls go with this project. So far, it has been a great learning experience and I am sure that will continue. It is fun to watch them problem solve on their own. They certainly are used to caring for animals, but there is a difference between “doing chores” and “being in charge”. I am simply the “overseer” on this one 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your daughter’s experience. Fun to hear of her success!


  5. Anne,
    There is nothing like a fresh farm egg! With 5 hens you should get 5 eggs most days. Before you know it you’ll want 10 hens, lol!

    I have 16 hens and get 12-13 eggs a day. Half of my girls are very old (4-5 years) and the other half are 2 years old. I think they lay pretty good for their age. I keep my fridge full of eggs, supply eggs to my Mother-in-Law and have “extra” eggs to sell. Anytime the Rancher goes to town I send him with eggs to deliver.

    We feed the hens all our kitchen scraps. I have to laugh when I go out to in the afternoon to check for eggs as the hens will come running and swarm me looking for table food. They especially love watermelon rinds!

    Enjoy the chicks and family project.

    • We plan to feed kitchen scraps as well when the chicks get older so hopefully ours will come running too 🙂 I had heard that chickens particularly like watermelon rinds so I will keep that in mind.

      The girls have been handling them quite a bit to try and “tame” them. I am sure that your family loves the “shared eggs”. We go through a lot of them so I am looking forward to having our own.

      I hope that all is well in S. Dakota!

  6. Carol

    I’m so proud of you, Ashley Grace! I plan to come to you for advice when I finally get to have chickens, though I may decide to have ducks instead.

    • Thank you, Carol! We don’t know anything about ducks, but hopefully will continue to develop some “chicken savvy” 🙂 I am sure that this will be an interesting journey for all of us.

      Good to hear from you. Megan and Tehya are keeping up texting with each other — sorry that we will not get to “horse camp” this year.

      Our best to you and Jim,

  7. Chicken “poop” is really good for flowers and gardens, it is much dryer and easier to spread then most others.

    • Yes it is! We have placed the coop and the run close to the vegetable garden so that it is easy to use the fertilizer 🙂

      Great thought, Ellie!

  8. Ashby

    The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree!
    Hope Ashley Grace will share the bounty with you from her literary chicks. My grandkids in St. Pete have a little “city” flock that keeps them in fresh eggs
    Great blog- thanks for representing our stewardship lifestyle so well!

    • Thank you, Ashby. Good to hear from you! Yes, she is going to be required to share the bounty…Especially since the family is about to do her chores for her for the next 3 weeks while she is in Texas 🙂

      I appreciate your kinds words and support.

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