Big News! The crappiest gift ever.
And I love it.

You know how sometimes pictures don’t truly express what you were feeling at the moment?

This one does.

It perfectly captures my reaction to the Easter present I got this year.

Shock, surprise, fear, glee.

What could a cardboard box hold that would create such an extreme reaction?

This …

And not just one … a bunch of them.

Now I’m sure you have questions so I’ll answer a few off the top of my head right now.

What are those things, Karen?
– They are live Peeps.  They’re chickens.

Did you always want chickens?
– Yes.

You must live in the country.
– Um, no.

Then you must have a big yard.
– Um, no.

Do you have any idea how to take care of chickens?
– No.

Will your chickens lay eggs?
– I hope so. That’s the plan.

Do you like eggs?
– I’m actually allergic. Just kidding. Yup. I like eggs.

Do chickens have to live in a chicken coop?

Do you have a chicken coop?
– No.

Do chickens make a lot of noise?
– I dunno.

What kind of chickens are they?
– Mutts kind of. Rhode Island Reds and 1 that’s a cross between a Rhode Island Red, a Columbia Rock and an Ameraucana.

How many are there?
Six.  Problem is I only have room for 2. Once I know if they’re male or female I’ll pick out two females and then I’ll have some chickens to give away.

But not this one …


Or this one …

Or this one ’cause he has such a cute bum.

Or any of the ones that are cute.  Uh oh.

So how did this come to be exactly?  How did I end up with 6 chickens in a cardboard box on my counter Easter morning?



As I’ve mentioned before, my boyfriend is a very conscientious present buyer.  It’s remarkable really the things he picks up on.

Turns out I’ve been talking about chickens a lot over the past few years without even realizing it.  Mentioning that I’d love to have a chicken.  Talking about how much fun it’d be to go outside and bring eggs in from our own chicken.  I’d show him blog posts from Pint Sized Pioneering where Jenn keeps chickens in her urban backyard.  I’d mention how the side yard would be the perfect place to keep chickens.

So I guess he figured … Karen wants a chicken.

Now here’s the thing.  I DID want chickens.  But never in a million years would I have gone out and bought myself some chickens to keep in the backyard. Especially not without some kind of plan.  And a coop.  And a plan.   He on the other hand would.

I apologize for sounding like a proud, new mother but I think they’re the most beautiful babies in the world. I don’t want to completely inundate you today, so I’ve saved some of the best pictures to show you on Friday.  I’ll also have a short little video of the day the chicks arrived for you to watch.

I imagine there’s going to be a huge amount of hijinx and hullabaloo with this new hobby.  A lot of hullabaloo indeed.

And by hullabaloo, I mean chicken poop.  Crap.



  1. Laura says:

    We just got our very first chicks about 3-4 weeks ago and you will be SHOCKED at how fast those little buggers grow! Looking forward to learning along with you!

  2. Angela says:

    reach out to Ashley who does a post every week on designsponge, I believe she has chickens (and bee’s) on her property in NC. I beleive her blog is small measures with Ashley, i think she’s even written a book!

    • Karen says:

      Angela – Thanks! Yes, Ashley does have a book. We’ve been in contact a few times when I had canning questions for her. She’s very nice and always very helpful! ~ karen

  3. Thera says:

    Oh wow! Where do i start? Love the look on your face, priceless! Kudo’s to the bf for reading you so well and acting upon it!
    I have been going on about chickens for some time, see here
    and there is a book you have GOT to read…(a snippet of my review)
    I borrowed this delightful book from the library, expecting to find a few ideas and maybe some recipes. What I got was a great book that follows the author’s adventures in homesteading. Some parts are definitely sad, most will make you smile and it is definitely inspiring.

    Now I want chickens, angora rabbits and bees, in our city backyard, someone say a prayer for my DH!

    see book here

  4. Debbie @ Swampbilly Ranch says:

    Oh Congrats!! I love my chickens! You will find they are so darn entertaining! I’m so happy for you!

  5. Allison says:

    I can’t wait to see the unbelievably cool coop you will build…

  6. Leslie says:

    Here are a bunch of building plans for small coops, that little yellow house one looks adorable.

  7. Shauna says:

    Oh my gosh Karen, we are in sync. I keep on pestering my husband about how I want to have chickens. I’ve done all sorts of research – this site has a good free e-book on raising chickens and what you will need:

    Unfortunately, with 2 full-time jobs and a 3-year old, we are in no position to start off with cute little baby chickens, so I am terribly jealous of you. I’ve read that Rhode Island Reds are really great chickens to have;)

    Can’t wait to see all your plans on building the coop – I’m sure you’ll be sharing it all with us including the drawn plans that you create – wink wink;)

    • Karen says:

      Hah! I’m feeling a tiny bit overwhelmed at the moment! I wish I just had some plans in front of me. I’m pretty darn handy but I’ve never built a building from scratch, and essentially that’s what a chicken coop is. You need a foundation, and to frame walls and windows and doors … it’s a “thing”. Eek. I feel the need to nap. ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      Oh! And thanks for the e-book heads up. I’ve been to that site *many* times but never noticed the ebook!! ~ k

      • Shauna says:

        You bet. Well, it sounds like a few of your readers are in the same boat. I like to call my husband the uber-researcher, so while our plans are far less imperative than yours (we don’t actually have baby chickens pooping in our house yet), I will send you any links I think may be useful to you. I am just so excited to think we’ll be reading all about this new venture of yours.

  8. Jeanne says:

    Dear Karen: Could you go to Craig’s List under Farm and Garden and advertise for a ready made coop?
    There has to be a recycle place for such things.
    Unless, like a new Mom, fresh and new is your cue.
    Love your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Jeanne! I have limited space for my coop and pretty specific tastes. :) So I’d like to build one that’s exactly right for my site and my eyeballs. Most premade ones are icky and the ones that aren’t are thousands of dollars for the coop plus the run. I have some decisions to make. ~ karen

  9. Ana says:

    ZOMG!! CHICKENS!! Oh I would love chickens!!
    Have you seen this chicken coop up on Design*Sponge?

  10. Jenn says:

    Squueeee! As *the* Jenn from *the* Pint-sized Pioneering, I’m honored to have inspired you to add 6 wee little fuzz butts to your household. You are guaranteed to love them and hug them and call them George… or Henrietta, or something like that.

    I also guarantee that they’ll only get crappier with time. hehe We love our girls… and they love the nommies we provide for them.

    • Karen says:

      Jenn – Squueeeeee, is right! And I’m only keeping 2. Don’t ask me how I’m going to get rid of the others. I wanna start out slow to make sure this works for us. Besides, my side yard where I”m going to build the coop is NOT very big. I’m sure I’ll have many, MANY questions for you. The first of which is, did you use plans to build your coop or did you wing it? I don’t wanna wing it. I want plans. Less stressful that way. Squueeeeee. ~ karen

      • Jenn says:

        Devil’s advocate here. You might think about three. Check the blogs and see what hen mortality is, seems they sometimes die fairly young for no apparent reason. If one dies, you want the other to have company. Can’t think of anything sadder than a solitary chicken.

        Think about it. Two’s a good number. I’m just thinking.

        • Karen says:

          Jenn – My reasoning for 2 was that I’d really like to be able to pick up a Cochin or an pure Ameraucana. If all 3 live, then I’m outta luck for one of those until one of them dies. :( That was my reasoning anyway. I’ll give it some thought. Chances are I’m going to fall in love with all of them and won’t want to give ANY away. I *have* to force myself to remember I do NOT have room for 6. ~ karen

  11. Christal Lewis says:


    Your boyfriend has abs of steel and he’s thoughtful and considerate. How did you get so lucky?


  12. Dieu says:

    OMG that is the most wonderful surprise. or not. but, I wanted to show you my friend’s chicken coop. because it’s adorable and really perfect for her chickens. also, well, I’m slightly obsessed with her life. don’t worry, she’s well aware of this. I tell her that every time I see her and if I’m a little tipsy. I’m not creepy.

  13. b. says:

    i think they need this to live in…i mean, how wonderful would it look in your beautiful backyard :)
    they posted this just before you recieved your chicks…serendipitous timing i think :)

  14. Lisa says:

    I have been talking about keeping chickens too!! But I can’t figure out how to winter them. Luckily you have time to figure that out, and let me know. :-)

    Also, do you take them to a vet? What if you have to ummm … dispatch one? Do you have to keep the males separate somehow? And if you want to go on vacation, who chicken sits?? I have given this half-a-brain of thought…

    • Karen says:

      Lisa – I’m as new to this as you are! But I know there are certain breeds of chicken that are fine with cold weather as long as they have protection. I’ll also plug the heat lamp in for them. I am not going to keep males. They’re too noisy to have in an urban setting, plus I only want chickens for eggs and Roos don’t give you those. I have cats, so my mom and sisters come and check on the cats when we go away. They’ll also have a look on at the chickens. That’s it. That is the entire extent of my knowlege. :) ~ karen

  15. Paulina J! says:

    Congrats on your babies. I want some too! I fell in love with this chicken coop when I first saw it:

    I know it might not be your style, but you might find some tips on there.

    • Karen says:

      Paulina J! – I absolutely LOVE that chicken coop. It’s a perfect and beautiful example of traditional. I’m afraid it may be a bit out of my skill range though! Yikes. If I had plans I could pull it off, but the hard part is finding a beautiful coop with plans. Most plans are for average, everyday coops. :( Thanks for showing me! It’ll definitely act as inspiration. For one thing it is VERY practical and well thought out. Great! ~ karen

      • Jenn says:

        That’s a fantastic coop.

      • Theresa says:

        There a thingy called Backyard Chicken newsletter-its a e- newsletter its aimed at urban chicken raisers/farmers. alot of links and info and I believe plans- theres one A frame chiken coop thats so cute I want to live in it!

  16. Jenna P says:

    OMG. I’m so jealous. I just read about this radical chicken coop yesterday called The Nogg. Although I know you will probably build your own, cause you are like that, this one is pretty cool.

    • Brittany says:

      It’s 1700 dollars. And that’s a “special” they’re running. Can you believe that? 1700 dollars?

      • Jenn says:

        What’s the roost space like in those? It looks fantastic, but I worry it doesn’t function like a coop needs to.

        Chickens don’t care what it looks like, it’s all function over form for them!

  17. Brittany says:

    Omg, we’re totally doing this in our tiny backyard over the next couple of months. Rhode Islands are pretty small, so you might be able to keep all 6!

  18. CJ says:

    You have your own little “Peeples”!! Can’t wait to hear everything about them…do they get names?

  19. Cheryl says:

    The baby chicken in the last photo looks exceptionally proud of the poo he/she has just produced.

  20. Karen how wonderful! I had a coop and 2 Bantams when I was 8yo. They won 1st Place Bantams in the New Liskeard Fall Fair. I loved them to bits! You are going to have a blast with these babes.

    Lol now you have to determine the style of your coop, how exciting!


  21. KoadToad says:

    I did NOT see that coming! Lucky, lucky lady, you! I’ll have to send Husband a link to this with some winking and nudging…
    (For the future, anyway. I don’t think apartment chickens would work well.)

  22. Christina says:

    Sooooo cuuuuuuute. I think it’d be fun to have a couple hens one day but I’d want them to sit on my lap and snuggle me and I don’t think chickens really do that. So I should probably stick to cats.

    • Shauna says:


      I’ve read that chickens will in fact sit on your lap and snuggle with you. I’ve been doing some research on owning chickens too and have even seen pictures of them snuggling with little kids.

  23. Kelly A. says:

    Please keep us updated on these lil babies!

  24. amanda says:

    oh congrats on being a new mom! the last issue of sunset had someone making a coop out of a dog house. not a lot of details but a lot cheaper! go peeps!!!!!!

  25. Sherry says:

    Such a sweet post, such a sweet boyfriend!

    I’m assuming you saw this b/c I believe you follow Design Sponge, but here is a coop recently posted:

    Can’t wait to read all the interesting and adorable future posts. Good luck with your new fur babies!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Sherry! Yes, I’ve seen the Nogg. Too expensive for me. Although by the time I build my own coop it’ll probably end up costing the same! ~ karen

  26. Leslie says:

    I am so jealous, and the pictures are adorable! Also, here’s a chicken coop, it’s shaped like an egg, it’s kind of awesome.

  27. OHerin says:

    I think what you just described is called chicken math. It explains how the want for 2 chickens can morph into keeping 50! A great resource for all things chickens:

    Congrats on your new peeps!

  28. How cool is that guy making a childhood fantasy come true? How lucky for the chicks that you are going to build them a coop and they’ll have a nice life.
    Though I’m certainly NOT qualified to talk about chickens or coops, I did use chicken wire to put a bottom row around my cat fence. Yes “cat-fence”. I have managed to fence in cats due to a local by-law had to figure out a way so kitties could still sit in the sun.

    The bottom 2 feet or so of the fence needed to be rodent proof as the chipmunks ate holes in the original plastic mesh “fence”. This worked great for a few years but the squirrels have now torn cat-sized holes – maybe they tired of going around the pen to the bird feeder? It took a few years for the big holes to appear but it might be because the wire has weakened over the years . If your chicken pen is going to be as small as the one in the link, it might be less hassle in the long run to get a heavier mesh, like hardware cloth.

    • Karen says:

      LeeAnne – Thanks! Yes, I do plan on using hardware cloth because of the exact reasons you mentioned. ~ karen

  29. Sanchia says:

    Yay chickens!! I live in inner suburbia melbourne and have had chooks for most of my life – they are the most hilarious / rewarding / wonderful pets to have around… This is the Aussie chook bible and here’s some eye candy and some more Happy times!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks so much Snachia! I’m off to look at the coops immediately! Hope at least one of them has some plans you can buy. I’m handy, but I *definitely* need a set of plans to build this coop. Most of the contemporary/modern looking ones are for sale already built. I wanna build it ’cause I can’t fathom spending $1,000 on a chicken coop. ~ karen

  30. Emie says:

    My DH did this about 10 years ago except I got turkeys… and I didn’t want them.. HE did!!! We live on some acreage but didn’t have a pen for them at the time. We had 5… once full grown, the largest one was 68# live weight…. He thought they’d be pets and follow him around the yard… but they didn’t.
    Thanks for a fun post, Emie

  31. Karen says:

    New mother love!!! It is so sweet, as are the chicks. Enjoy the journey.

  32. mimi says:

    They’re GORGEOUS!
    I think I had the same look on my face when I saw what was in the box!
    When our rabbit died, i wanted to use his run for chickens (it was originally a chicken run, toblerone-shaped)- hubby agreed, provided I would look after them! That was the end of that!

  33. Jennifer says:

    Don’t suppose he got you a ” chick cam” so’s we can all watch them grow up? Also are u allowed to keep chickens where you live?

  34. Heather says:

    Oh, there is a cool coop in BHG’s summer 2011 issue of Do It Yourself.

  35. Heather says:

    Yay!! I hope that was a real reaction, so awesome.
    Anyway, my Mom has 3 chickens and they are awesome. Not only because of the eggs but because they actually make nice pets and are very sweet. She has two Rhode Island Reds and a Wyandotte. I think your new girls will bring you much fun and happiness.. and eggs. Enjoy!! and good luck choosing :)

    • Karen says:

      Heather – Oh, it’s a real reaction! My bf was smart enough to make sure he had a camera ready when I came into the kitchen. My mother and sister happened to be at my house at the same time so I think I’m looking over at one of them. Yup. Definitely a real reaction. :) ~ karen

  36. Shauna Rudy says:

    I’m desperately jealous! I, too, have been talking about getting chickens for years, but instead I got a scrappy, prey-driven dachshund/terrier so I’m out of luck. This is the coop I coveted ( I think your pick suits your home perfectly. Keep us updated please, on the highs and lows of urban chicken farming!

  37. Theresa says:

    I love Chickens but I’m sure the dog will eat them. So now I can live out my chicken dream vicariously through your chickens. I also dream of bee keeping but the children shreik and threaten matricide so I’m waiting.
    Any chance now that your chicken dream has come true you’re having visions of honey?

    • Karen says:

      Theresa – Funny you should mention it! I did a show on a beekeeper about 10 years ago and have been wondering about keeping bees ever since! I *definitely* don’t have room for bees. :) ~ karen

      • Theresa says:

        maybe that can be my arguement – you are letting us in on your chicken adventure – the least I could do is let you in our beekeeping adventure. Let you know if the naysayers waver :)

      • marné says:

        Maybe you could find someone with a little land that would let you keep a hive there? An avid gardener would greatly benefit from a hive :o)

        (I’m a part-time chicken/duck/bee keeper)

        • marné says:

          Oh, and the Ameraucana will lay blue-green eggs, if that makes the decision easier :o)

          The first year I got chicks I spent every spare minute with them, just watching them peep and poop and eat. Even now, I love just relaxing by watching them peck and scratch all over our yard.

        • Karen says:

          Marne – The chick is only 1/4 Ameraucana so the chances of it laying pretty eggs are slim. I’d like to get an Ameraucana tho! Cochins are beautiful too. ~ karen

  38. Norell says:

    I think we all need to have your BF write a post on your blog to show to our BFs and Husbands so they can learn the secret your BF has learned. I’ve been married for 30 years and my DH never seems to pick up on my hints. I don’t like to put a photo with a circle around it for him to see – I want him to listen and pick up the hints. If there is a way for me to get him to actually listen to me – I would love to find it.

    BTW, I adore your chickens. I have been wanting some for years, but have to wait until we move into the country. Thanks for making me smile!!!

  39. shauna says:

    He he he he. You’ve never had chickens before have ya??? Ps they get bigger… So does their poop!!

    • Karen says:

      Shauna – No. No chickens. But I have had a horse. Which is an animal with a fairly large poop. I’m pretty sure they don’t poop as often as chickens though. ~ karen

  40. Anita says:

    Yay live peeps! 6 won’t be that hard to clean up after – for my senior thesis I took care of 30 quail and that was quite a stinky endeavor. They are ADORABLE when they are chicks though! Have fun with the peepers!

    • Karen says:

      Anita – I’m stunned at how much poop 6 little chicks can produce. If I had room for 6 I’d keep em all. But I don’t. :( I want happy chickens so I don’t wanna crowd em. ~ karen

      • Anita says:

        Crowding chickens is definitely not a good idea! I’m not sure about chickens specifically, but male quail have this habit of fighting to the death if they’re kept in close quarters. I enjoyed the three weeks of adorable huddleness while I could, before the boys got too rowdy!

  41. Faz says:


    • Karen says:

      Faz – Thanks! I know. I almost couldn’t get the post written because I keep going to look at them. They’re a time suck. ~ karen

  42. Pati says:

    You have the sweetest man Karen….he tunes right in!
    Have fun with the new peeps. I’m sure they will be fun and entertaining.
    I grew up having to collect the eggs everyday..Liked the hens but we had a rooster that would chase you..he was pure evil! Let’s just say he met his maker when he chased my Mom one to many times…there may have been a 2×4 involved…but anyways. I hope we get to see the whole journey with you :)

  43. Adrienne Audrey says:

    I want! I want! so adorable!

  44. Shasta Halliburton says:

    This is by far one of the most adorable and awesome posts I’ve read as of yet! I’ve just recently started following you and I’ve gotta say, there is never a dull post! Thanks so much for sharing this. Honestly, I’m totally jealous as I too want some little chickens of my own. Unfortunately apartment life doesn’t seem to agree with me. Soon. Very soon.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Shasta! I love getting new followers. :) If you want a chicken in your apartment just tell my boyfriend about it. He’ll have one at your doorstep in no time. ~ karen

  45. Jennifer says:

    They’re adorable — props to the BF for major blog fodder to come…
    P.S. Can’t wait to see the pool noodle wreath you make with those bad boys.

    • Karen says:

      Jennifer – That’s *exactly* what he said. You’ll never run out of things to blog about now! I seriously hope people are interested in backyard chickens because I imagine they’ll pop up every couple of weeks. ~ karen!

  46. Laura Watt says:

    the chicken poop will be good for the garden.

    Oh, and zomg! I am so jealous! Are you going to build one of these awesome coops?

    • Karen says:

      Laura! So funny! That is the *exact* coop I’m using as my inspiration. Holy crap! What are the chances you’d pick it? I in fact emailed the guy you see in the photo there and his wife asking for the plans for it but he isn’t able to give them to me right now and I need the coop RIGHT now. He was really nice and send me links to a whole bunch of other coops. ~ karen

  47. gf says:

    Thank you for brightening the end of a long crappy day. I laughed so hard I nearly blew beer out my nose when I saw your reaction photo.

  48. That surprised look on your face is hysterical! When I bought my house it came with 11 chickens! Our coop is empty now but we keep thinking about getting more one day. Have fun!

  49. Kate S says:

    AH SO CUTE!! We hatched chicks in an incubator in 3rd grade, over march break some of the kids got to bring them home to look after, but I had two cats so I wasn’t picked. It was a very sad day, one which I still hold against my now passed on kitties. I look forward to chicken updates! Good Luck!!


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