I came across her very awesome blog a few months ago and was ridiculously excited to see a girl I could relate to raising chickens in her backyard in the city. If she could make that work, I figured I could learn from her and stand a chance at raising chickens on the Homestead. We haven't gotten that far yet, but boyfriend is pretty sure it's a good idea.
Make sure you check out her blog, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
A: When we first started the renovation, it was so full of little crazy good and bad moments, that I kept saying, “I really need to blog about this.” But for several years, it was just that--me saying it. I think that’s probably a pretty common blogger story. Finally, I just pulled the trigger.
Q: Have you always been a DIY'er, or did buying your house bring more of that out? I know buying a house and some acreage has definitely brought more of it out in me!
A: I’ve always kind of had it in me. When I was younger, my parents would go out for an evening and come back to find a random room in their house painted some ridiculous color while they were gone. That was the kind of trouble I used to get into. I was such a rebel. The Texan and I owned one house together before this one, and while it was a cosmetic fixer-upper that we sort of cut our DIY teeth together on—it was nothing compared to the Farmhouse. It is safe to say that we were in over our heads on this one; but you gotta do what you gotta do. We had a limited budget and a stubborn will to somehow, some way, make things work.
Q: You and the Texan have been plugging away on your back deck (which looks amazing!). Do you ever get nervous when taking on such big projects? Like, maybe we'll tear this all apart and then not be able to put it back together again? I feel that way sometimes...
A: Every. Single. Project. The deck was a big nerve-wracker for me, personally. Despite how rickety and unsafe the old one was, it was still SOMETHING—something to prevent a person from plummeting out of the second story. The minute that thing was ripped down and there was nothing but wind whistling passed the upper level of the house—I had complete demo-remorse. But again, all you can do is knuckle-up, get it done, and hope for the best. I always tell myself that if we screw it up, there is someone out there who can fix it (and I try not to think about what that will cost).
A: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. (And thank you, by the way!) There is something pretty poetic about looking out there and seeing a busy little garden; the bees, the butterflies, the chickens, the veggies, the flowers. I get a whole lot of joy out of just seeing it all in action. But then to be able to harvest all that goodness and bring it inside and use it is a whole other happiness. It is such a basic, beautiful thing.
Q: Okay, the chickens. I am super curious about the chickens. We just bought a house and 26 acres and boyfriend wants to get some chickens. I've kind of been a city girl, so have no idea how to raise chickens. You guys do it in a small space. What are the pros/cons of raising your own chickens and your top advice to anyone thinking about getting started?
A: There are so many pros to having chickens. They are funny, charming creatures that make me laugh every single day with their little habits and personalities. They provide the best-tasting eggs, they work the garden like magic, feathered garden elves, and they really don’t ask for a lot in return. I hold my birds in pretty high-esteem; they are first, and foremost beloved pets, and therefore, my attitude is probably different than that of someone who is raising them purely as a food-source. So mine are a bit---how do I put this?—high maintenance. They require daily care, coop-cleaning, and supervision. But I run a really tight ship. We live on a very small piece of property in the city, so it is highly important to me to keep things clean and quiet so that our neighbors are not bothered (this goes for ALL of our pets, not just the chickens). My advice to anyone considering chickens is pretty generic: do your homework. There are some great books out there on the subject, as well as a lot of wonderful, informative blogs (that being said, there are a lot of really terrible chicken-keeping blogs out there masquerading as ‘authorities’—don’t take any one bit of advice as the gospel. Research, research, research). You want to pick breeds that do well in your climate, as well, you want to be able to provide them with ample coop and run space (and always build these things bigger than you think you need—ALWAYS). Make sure that your coop, run, etc. are easy to clean, and furthermore, make sure you really keep things clean. Chickens are easily susceptible to lots of freaky illnesses, many of which are brought on by a dirty environment. Don’t take free-ranging for granted. A lot of people believe you can just turn your chickens loose and not pay them a second thought, but just make sure you completely understand the inherent risks of this (predators, environmental dangers, chickens with gypsy souls who like to wander).
A: I had a long period of construction purgatory where I was able to think and scheme and plan for what I would do décor-wise once we were done with the grunt work. It’s probably the very thing that got me through all the construction (that, and a lot of wine). As each room was finished being built, I set about decorating them pretty much one at a time as they became ready (and when our bank account would allow me). I have a tendency to take on too many projects at once (have you noticed?), and it has become rather critical to the entire process that I force myself to focus on one room at a time. We have many furniture and décor pieces that we’ve acquired over the years that I try to work in wherever they might fit (sometimes they’ll even dictate how a room turns out). I am hyper-selective about what we buy new these days—I love finding cast-offs or acquiring hand-me-downs that I can renovate to fit the vibe here.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for decorating, gardening, projects, etc?
A: I’ve always been a voracious magazine-reader, and in recent years, I’ve gotten quite fixated on Pinterest and following the amazing blogs I stumble upon through that. Additionally, I just pay attention, wherever I’m at—I’m always seeing amazing décor (both home and garden) when I am out and about and I’m constantly filing things away amongst the cobwebs in my head. I mean, there are things in this house that are a direct rip on something I saw 20 years ago—such as the numbered staircase. I can’t even tell you where I saw that for the first time, but I know I was a teenager. When I saw it, I literally said out loud, “When I have a house with stairs, I’m doing that.” Well, this is the first house with stairs I’ve ever had…so…I did that.
Q: Looking back 5-10 years ago, are you where you thought you'd be?
A: We bought this house five years ago, and if someone had told me we’d JUST be getting to the end of the renovation now, I would have had some choice words for that someone. Never thought it would take five years! Ten years ago, the Texan and I were in our old house, which was a tiny 700 square foot place in the middle of a not-so-safe neighborhood. If someone had shown me photos of this house, this yard, this neighborhood, and told me that’s where I’d be in ten years, I would have been over the moon. I probably still would have had some choice words for them because I’d never have believed it.