About two years ago, the Eastpointe board voted to allow backyard chickens in our city. I was overjoyed! I love animals and have enjoyed visiting friends’ farms over the years. We’ve lived in Eastpointe for over 18 years with no plans on moving, so I jumped at the chance to bring a little bit of the countryside to me!
I did tons of research on websites, trying to learn all I could about different chicken breeds, temperament, hardiness, egg laying, equipment needed, etc.
When I thought I gathered all the info I needed, my youngest daughter, Emma, wanted to come with me to see all the chicks selections at Family Farm & Home Store and Tractor Supply in Richmond and Washington. I knew I wanted two Wyandotte chickens, but I was on the fence for the third.
As Emma and I were discussing what kind of chick should be the third, a woman who was looking at chicks with her husband suggested an Orpington. She owned a Buff Orpington herself and said they were docile chickens, and she just loved her Orpington. I still wasn’t so sure, but Emma and I decided that, yes indeed, we’d get a Buff Orpington since they were readily available at that time. We got a salesperson for assistance, and Emma picked out one chick in the trough of about 50 chicks. They were all so adorable, little yellow fluff balls cheeping and moving about! The sales rep gave the yellow chick in a cardboard box to us. I looked at Emma and asked her what we should name her. At the exact same moment, we both said “Buttercup” and laughed! So henceforth her name was Buttercup aka “Butters.”
At the time, we also picked out a Silver and a Golden-laced Wyandotte as Buttercup’s siblings. They all lay brown eggs.
I have a large dog kennel in the house that I raised them in at first until feathers replaced their fluff. In the meantime, I built a coop inside my garage for the chickens to nest, roost at night, and keep out of inclement weather. The outside wall of the garage where the coop is located used to be my small vegetable garden, so I framed in the garden and added netting, wire, and a slanted roof for an outside chicken run area. The finishing touches were to cut a small hole in the side of the garage that connected the inside coop to the outside run. This lets the chickens come and go from inside shelter to outside sunshine. This year, one of the Wyandottes was sent to a friend’s farm to live, and we got a new chick, an Easter Egger named Georgia (after Ray Charles’s song) who will lay either blue or green or pink-hued eggs.
They all share the same coop with two rabbits, Poppy and Truffles.
Buttercup is very special to me. I enjoy gardening my perennial-filled yard, and when doing so, I let the chickens out with me in the yard. Buttercup keeps me company and stays right by my side. When I’m pulling weeds, Buttercup is at the ready to snatch up any worm or bug that pops its head up. Buttercup clucks and talks to me, and she understands her name when called. I will sound a certain chicken bawking when I have a treat for her and the others, and Buttercup is the first to come running full speed in her waddling run and stop directly at my feet. Buttercup enjoys sitting on your lap and talking and listening to your voice. I “spoil” my chickens by shopping at Randazzo’s Fruit and Vegetable Market just to buy fresh produce. Buttercup’s favorites are kale, spinach, and cabbage. Occasionally I will stop by the local Reptile Store, which has better prices than chain pet stores, and purchase live crickets (which I call “Chicken Popcorn”). Buttercup and the other chickens go WILD for this treat and just can’t get enough! When we cook homemade foods, we save all the vegetable peelings and waste to give to them. Chickens will eat leftovers from your fridge like rice, noodles, and leftover meats.
The biggest challenge in raising backyard chickens is when the weather gets below double digits. It’s a little difficult to keep the water access from freezing and the coop a warm during those times. Other than that and the paperwork the city required in the beginning, it is very rewarding. It’s very simple to own and care for backyard chickens. The fresh eggs taste so rich and fresh, and the increased health benefits from fresh eggs are by far superior than old store-bought eggs. The company they bring, personalities they have, and the stress relief and ease that comes with caring for them are what makes raising them so satisfying!