Featured Chicken Keeper of the Month: The Diggs Family

I am so excited to introduce you all to the Diggs family and their fine flock! Please, follow them on Facebook or Instagram @ Pruning and Provision to read more of their adventures!

Here is their story written by Terron Diggs:

We didn’t choose the chicken life; the chicken life chose us. This is how our adventure began: A family at our church needed to rehome their flock of hens and asked us if we were interested. Before you knew it, there I was, installing a t-post fence into the ground, preparing an area for five hens has more square footage than our house (as my wife would point out).

A pen for the feathered Bennet sisters

After hours of researching “how to raise chickens”, the five Bennet sisters (named for Jane Austen’s iconic characters in Pride and Prejudice) arrived. Well, only four of them arrived. One of the chickens was missing on moving day. Possibly sensing the change coming, she went into hiding around the shed. She was later found and delivered that day.

We came to find out these hens sure took on the characteristics of the Bennet ladies. For example, Mary, the plain sister, was overlooked compared to the more outstanding sisters. That name was given to a hen who had a scissor beak, which, besides making her a less attractive bird, needed to be trimmed from time to time.

I figured my wife was more qualified to take on the beak trimming due to her degree in cosmetology and not because I was too chicken to do it (pun intended). Or Lydia, the only chicken reckless and daring enough to escape our chicken field in search of a more exciting life out in the wild city life of our Richmond, VA, neighborhood.

The Bennet hens thriving in their new home

I must say that before this chicken life chose us, my wife and I had been talking about getting chickens. The idea of getting fresh eggs daily was very appealing. Unbeknownst to us, “chickens are the gateway drug into homesteading”. Surely, that was the case for us.

Over time, our values for getting/having chickens have changed. What was once a novel thought (getting fresh eggs daily) evolved into wanting to honor God and steward His creation well. What that meant for us regarding chickens was giving them adequate space, access to grass and sunshine, and allowing the “chickeness” of the chicken to come out.

Room for “chickeness” to come out

Chickens are a delight to have. Well, there was that one time when we spent a great deal of our lifespan trying to catch roosters because we had wanted to expand our layer flock. I had the grand idea of starting them from chicks (what’s called a straight run) and just seeing what we got. I know this works for many folks, but I have no desire to go down that path again.

At least we can chalk it up as an experience that we can look back on as a family and say, “Remember that time we raised chicks in our living room?”. Yes, you heard right; we raised them right in the comfort of our living room. Some people have pet parrots or parakeets, so we reasoned, surely, chickens couldn’t be that abnormal.

The living room hatchery

It was a unique experience, going to bed and waking up to the sounds of chirping, having a constant dust bowl in the living room that somehow spread to the entire downstairs, and daily having to add wood shavings to keep the smell down. I make it sound bad, but overall, it was a fun experiment, and we can look back as a family and say, “Remember when…”. Just never again in the house.

The new additions staying warm

So, back to the roosters. There we were, all hands on deck, trying to corner these roosters to separate them from the hens and block them off with any and every possible item we could find. At one point, I looked up and saw my seven-year-old son with an empty laundry basket he had brought to use as a catchment. I believe the roosters just pitied us and eventually gave in.

A Bennet family photo

Chickens have been a great addition to our backyard. Knowing the source of our food is something we are trying to get better at, and figuring out how much of it we can do from our very home is a fun challenge. We try to do this not in a “we are self-sufficient, we can do it all on our own” kind of way because we believe that community is important and we need one

Nesting boxes on the Diggs Urban Homestead, Pruning and Provision

In fact, we need our chickens. We take care of them, and they take care of us. So, chickens are a delight? I’d say yes because what other animal can turn your food scraps into beautiful brown eggs?

Collecting those beautiful brown eggs

For us, the saying is true: chickens have been the gateway drug to homesteading. We are thankful to be able to raise our own chickens (both egg layers and meat birds), and we look forward to seeing where this journey will take us! We are currently in the process of raising turkeys for Thanksgiving and starting a market garden for our community.

If you’re interested in following along on this adventure with us, you can follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook at Pruning and Provision.

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and is interested in backyard chicken health and care.

1 Comment

  1. We did have chickens at one time, but had to get rid of them. But eventually, want to start raising them again, not just as many that we used to have. We used to sell the eggs, because we had so many. We now have 4 ducks. Raised them from 4 days old to now, which they are almost 4 months old. Beautiful white ducks. Can’t get used to calling them duckies whenever it is time to eat, so I call them chickies and they come running. Or if I can’t see them in the yard, I will call out “chickie chickie and they let out a quack to let me know where they are. Only thing with ducks is that they are so messy. But you get used to that after a while. They just free range all around the yard. Eating whatever they find on and in the ground. Plus I do feed them duck feed and snacks. I am sure that when they start to fly, I will lose them. But I think that they will eventually come back to our yard. This is their first home and they know for sure where the food is ! ! !

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