Too chicken for backyard farming

I feel guilty as soon as my husband sees the computer screen. He doesn’t even have to say anything. The look on his face says it all: “What the cluck!”

I was supposed to be in bed a long time ago, but instead I’m online, looking at chicks.

Amish, Quaker, lean-to: they’re all up there on the screen, plain as day. I’ve spent the last two hours lusting over chicken coops.

I’ve got chickens on the brain. It happens to me every year right about now.

For the past seven years I’ve wanted chickens. For the past six years I’ve talked myself out of it. The reasons against having chickens are just so darn reasonable. Do I have extra time? No. Do I want to deal with more poop? No. Would it be cost efficient? No.

Defying all logic, I still want chickens.

There’s nothing I like to look at more than a nice- sized cedar coop, wrapped up in hardware cloth, with a slide-out cleaning tray. Add some Plexiglas and a few locks, and, oooh, baby! I’m already imagining the girls.

It’s not like I want to do something really crazy, like raise backyard tilapia. I’m not even petitioning the city for a dwarf milking goat.

Lots of people in our neighborhood have chickens. I know, because I can’t stop looking at their coops. When my family goes for a walk to the park, I lead us on a circuitous route just so I can check out the goods.

But not everyone in my family shares my chicken obsession. “Go ahead,” my husband told me. “If we get chickens, you’re in charge. Have fun dealing with rats.”

That’s the biggest reason of all against having chickens! I’m terrified of rats! I’ve even developed an OCD routine for taking out the compost. I always kick the barrel and wait a few seconds, just to make sure I don’t hear scurrying.

It’s not just the rats. I’m trying to imagine how I would solve other poultry problems, and I just can’t.

What would I do if one of my hens became egg bound (i.e. had an egg stuck up her cloaca)? All possible solutions sound abhorrent and messy. Or what if a raccoon reached into the coop and maimed one of my layers? I don’t want to handle a crisis like that.

Fresh eggs from my own back yard would be wonderful. But when it comes to facing backyard farm drama, I just keep chickening out.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at

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