What is a Happy Chicken Cooperative?


There are all kinds of cooperatives.

Babysitting ones.

Vegetable ones.

Homeschooling ones.

We hear the word but I think unless we have been a part of one

the real meaning behind it

could be a little fuzzy.

Basically it’s when a group of people pool their resources

to solve a problem or pursue a belief

with shared risk and reward.


So for The Happy Chicken Farm

our problem,

my problem I guess and I’m hoping it’s yours too,

is mass farming of poultry- birds raised in crowded inhumane conditions.

This type of poultry farming is called factory farming.

Factory farming doesn’t make us very happy here

and we like to be happy


I live my life by the motto

if you aren’t part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

So I thought

what could I do about factory farming?

I am just one person.

It’s hard to make a difference when you are just one person.

Enter a cooperative or as I prefer to type a co-op.


Each co-op is comprised of 15 families

who invest equally into the farm.

They share in the risk-

such as predators,

or road crossing

(why chickens? why?!)

or whatever chicken problems you can have

(hint- not many).

But we also share in the reward.

Bountiful eggs, your very own chicken (without having to clean up the mess!)

also the tangible experience of knowing

where your food comes from and who provides it!


It’s such an important connection to me

and one I especially enjoy sharing with children.

When kids see the chickens

feel the feathers,

collect the eggs

there is a connection to the food

that we seem to have lost these days.

We put all our food into plastic containers

and buy them from a store.


We never think about where it comes from.

But shouldn’t we?

We have lost our connection

to the land,

the the farmer,

to the animal

and we take it for granted.


But right now

because of three co-ops

(thats 45 families!)

here at The Happy Chicken Farm

we have 74 chickens

won’t have to inhale their own feces

and possibly become a cannibals due to the stress of overcrowding.

The only worries a happy chicken has

is when the farm assistant (Ryan)

is going to have their new swings ready

and when frozen blueberries are coming again.


They have 99 problems

but a grub ain’t one.

There isn’t money in making happy chickens.

The money from co-ops goes to feed,


feather care,


 general maintenance,

and of course, the chickens favorite,



The reason I do what I do

is because

I wanna do my part.

It’s a small way I found that I can make a difference

in a problem I see in the world.


74 freaking chickens.

What did I get myself into?!


A Chicken Pickin’ Party…


We had us a chicken pickin’ party down here on the farm for co-op #1. What is a chicken co-op you might be wondering? Don’t worry I am going to have a post on that coming up so come back later this week to learn more about farm cooperatives.


But back to the chicken picking’ party. I just like saying it. lol Chicken pickin’, chicken pickin’…ok I’m done. It was a really fun party that ended with a lot of dads and kids chasing chickens around for a family pictures. Yeah. It was as good as it sounds.

Chickens were posing for their Instagram shots and hoping for a treat from the chicken treat buffet. I set up a spread for all our co-op members to choose from to butter their chicken up with treats for many good eggs to come. Tomatoes, blueberries, sunflower seeds, raisins, all kinds of yummy chicken things.


The chickens were in heaven and co-op members set up lawn chairs and blankets in a semi-circle to sit and enjoyed the scavengers come and beg for maybe one more treat. The chickens really did put on a show. I think they would have stayed out as long as everyone stayed. Usually the go up to roost around 7 pm but not that night. That night they were young and free chickens without a care of tomorrow. They were raging.


How does one pick a chicken? First you have to decide picking order. We had a food drive and the co-op family that brought the most collected items got first pick. Giving back especially to our community is a top priority here at The Happy Chicken Farm. Then once the picking order is established  the fun begins.


It mostly starts timidly with a little pointy- “that one?” “or maybe this one?”. But it quickly progresses to attempting to corner and hold the prized “one”. This makes for good entertainment as an entire co-op runs around your farm chasing chickens only to stop and call “take a picture we got one!”


It was such a good time. It is amazing how kids take to a farm. Within seconds they are off with a smile on their face and they don’t stop. By the time everyone left I bet all the kids smelled of summer sweat, had dirty hands and feet, and fell right asleep that night. It was a sweet sight to see them holding the baby chicks, trying to make friends with the older ones, and asking all kinds of chicken questions.


This is why I do what I do. When kids know where their food comes from they appreciate it more. When adults see how we do things around here their eyes are open to the fact that there is a way to fight factory farming and they are apart of it.  Thank you co-op #1 for a great night. Can’t wait to get the name roster up because they picked some pretty fantastic names!


American Pickers…

Ok it’s more like Thomasboro Pickers. Being a chicken farmer just got interesting. Seems that word of my chicken operation is spreading and my happy chickens are in demand. So much so that I had a little business offer thrown my way. Free eggs for a year in trade for 4-6 picks from the barn…


Yes please! Take all my eggs and I’ll take all your old galvanized thingiemabobs and all the old barn thingumajigs. I love a good old fashion trade. So we went off to see what I had to choose from and see if it was game on.

You tell me…I’m just kidding I’m gonna go Joanna Gaines all over that barn…


I’ll take an old sleigh…


Just kidding that’s not up for grabs. Neither is this awesome thing that use to have a job that I don’t know what it was but it’s cool and industrial and I want it.



And this pot. I want it. Unless it is a chamber pot. Then I do not want this pot.


And I can always find something to do with old fencing. These bikes below are not for taking but how cute would they be in a flower bed with a little basket of flowers growing out the front? I love old junk and making it new again. It is seriously addicting. Especially since I live on a farm. I am always looking around at what I have and thinking of what else I can use it for and I am finding ANYTHING can be a planter. lol. Anything you can add a drain to that is.


The barn owner also has plans for this old mill, which still has all it’s pieces and could be fully operational if put together. Stuff that is made to last I tell ya. I love it. The rustier, the  junkier, the more the average person would look at it and say no the more I want it.


Can’t wait to shake hands and make this business deal official. And hey, he also has coop. Which I may or may not be renting in the near future for more operations at The Happy Chicken Farm. So stay tuned it could get interesting. Gobble Gobble.

That was a hint.







Dirty Talk…


“In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

Blue Beard’s Egg Margaret Atwood

I wanna dish about dirt today. Let me tell you right now you should be outside as much as possible. No excuses like work or other adulting crap. Get. Out. Side!!! There is no better medicine then the great outdoors. Literally. Research now shows that getting outside and breathing in the microbes from the soil actually has the same effect on our brain neurons as serotonin producing drugs like Prozac. There for dirt = medicine. Soul medicine.


Serotonin is a chemical the body produces to make it feel relaxed and happy. It is produced in the brain and in the gut. That’s it. Those are the only two places. So if you have depression and gut problems they go hand in hand. You’re welcome. You are having issues because your body is depleted of serotonin and it is going to try and get it wherever it can therefor starving your brain or gut of the serotonin it needs to function correctly. Serotonin deficiency can also cause problems with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders, and bipolar disorders.


I know a lot about this because I have obsessive compulsive disorder. When I first started to notice the benefits of gardening and working in the yard I thought it was the action keeping my mind occupied but the more I research OCD and the science behind this “nature deficiency disorder” the more I was convinced that it was actually my body producing more of a much needed chemical- serotonin.


Some research is showing that depression could be linked in part to anti inflammatory disorder. Allergens trigger an inflammatory response in the body by activating immune cells to suppress the allergic reaction. So how does dirt help any of this?


The soil is full of good things like microbes and bacteria or maybe microbes are bacteria I’m no scientist. But the soil is full of it and this good guy bacteria called mycobacterium vaccae. This guy powers through the soil up into your nose hole down into your lungs and releases the same effect on yo brain as Prozac. True story. Or it can get into your blood through cuts on your hand.


You can even eat it off a carrot or some greens. That’s right we have literally taken the happy out of our food. We use so many pesticides and disgusting not necessary things in our food that we can not eat it with out washing it. And then we wash off all the happy. It just goes right down our drain.

Then we sit around, eating more crap, wondering why we feel so depressed and unhappy. I didn’t really understand the benefits of being outside until I lived in Germany. In Germany to keep a child indoors all day is a sin. They go out no matter what the weather. Rain or shine. Snow or sun. You dress for the weather and you stay out. Every. Day.


At first I heavily resisted this. In all forms. Biking 10 miles round trip to shop. Hiking flipping mountains. I don’t get it. I mean I do because it’s beautiful but if you want to hate you life then let your friends convince you to hike down Hoch Reiss because its super easy and will only take 30 minutes. And by that they mean it will take 3 hours and you will crawl to the bathroom the following day because that is as far as your body is able to make it. Eventually I became so accustomed to the “I’m going to make you climb a mountain to see what kind of girlfriend you are” move that I was actually starting to like it a little. Very little but still a little.

And those bike rides? Began to love how my booty was looking so I put that on the positive side too and liked it a little more. And when it came to my job as an aupair nothing could wear three kids out fast then fresh air. Knocks them out. Positives. Positives. Positive. Yeah, so I  didn’t like the great outdoors. Except heres the thing. I didn’t like it until all of a sudden I did. The trick with getting outside is realizing it’s one of those things that seems like it isn’t going to be worth the extra effort to fit it into our agenda but the research is in my friends and it’s SO is worth your time to fit in. Soon you too will be addicted.


Join me this summer in making a family pact to get outside a minimum of 3o minutes. I’m going to call it the #mydirty30journey. It is as simple as this get outside for 30 minutes every day and get dirty. Take a hike. Work in the yard. Breath deeply and acknowledge that this time is important.

Then take a picture and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #mydirty30journey so we can all inspire each other this summer to get out. On our lunch breaks, after dinner, or whenever we can squeeze it in because it is as easy as that. Get dirty and breath deeply. Secret of life? Possibly so.

There was a farmer who had a…worm?


Ya you heard me. Worm. Or I guess I should say worms because I am starting a mealworm farm. Luckily mealworm farming takes up very little land. In fact it takes up no land at all and only uses a small plastic tub.

On the lists of things I thought I would do with my life worm farming definitely was not on it. But here I am 32 and farming chickens and worms. Actually the chicken farming has caused the worm farming because chickens are a gateway livestock. I don’t know if you have seen the best video ever of a woman warning you of getting backyard hens but she is hilarious and you must watch it because it’s true and you should be warned.

So worms. Mealworms. Chickens freaking loooooooooooooooooooooove them. I mean you can pretty much get a chicken to do anything you can think of if you promise it enough mealworms. Just kidding but wouldn’t that be awesome? I would have my chickens doing laundry and putting away the groceries – now I know what you are thinking. Chickens putting away the groceries? Won’t they poop on the floor? But that my friends is why they make these.

I just made your day didn’t I? All chicken diaper jokes aside mealworms are a great snack for your chicken. They are full of protein and they must taste delicious because the chickens just go completely crazy for them. But dang they are expensive. A big bag of them at Rural King sets me back almost $10.00! Yikes! And that doesn’t last me too long.

You only need to give them a handful a day to share among them but that adds up when you have 24 birds. Right now I am giving them dried mealworms but in the future once I get my own mealworm farm up and running they will get fat, juicy, fresh worms. There is nothing my Lady Loo’s love more then following behind me as I garden fighting over who gets the next fresh earthworm or grub I dig up.

I have everything I need to set up my mealworm farm except mealworms. Where the heck does one find mealworms? Bait shops? Field and Stream? Petsmart?  I have been searching high and low so if anyone out there knows where I can find me some mealworms. I would be much obliged.

What you need to start a Mealworm Farm:

+Some sort of plastic tub

+Bran meal for bedding and food (found at feed supply stores like Farm Target)

+something for moisture like a slice of bread, potato, or carrot

+some kind of small plastic container (like the lid of a to-go container or egg carton) for a pupa habitat within the larger storage unit

+some kind of stand to place your bread or potato to keep bedding below dry

How a mealworm farm works…

01. You put the meal bran down as bedding (there are other things you can use but this is what I am going with)

02. Place in your bread or potato or carrot preferably on top of something plastic to keep the moisture off the bedding.

03. Place pupa habitat within tub.

04. Put in the live worms.

05. Wait for them to do their thing.

It takes about 2 months for them to really produce more worms. Mealworms are the larva of the Darkling Beetle. What I love about this is that this is the science that Charlie is going to learn it in such a natural way. I love the way a farm teaches. It’s the best preschool I can offer to her.

Together Charlie and I will learn all about how the Darkling Beetles start off as eggs and we will separate our beetles from the eggs every two weeks or they might eat the eggs. I know all mothers can relate to that. The eggs hatch into tiny worms that grow into larger worms also know as the larva. This is what we feed the chickies.

But not so fast! We can’t feed them all to the chickens or we won’t have any new eggs. The trick is to save some and let them mature into the pupa and then the beetles, who lay more eggs, to hatch more tiny worms, to grow into more larger, plump delicious chicken treats.

Once a month Charlie will have to help me remove the worms and wash out the tub, replace the food and replace the worms and beetles to their rightful posts. She gets to learn animal care taking, life cycle, scientific definitions of pupa and larva, and responsibility. I love things that are a package deal.

Plus eventually the worm farming will be just Charlie’s job. It really only takes about 10 minutes a week and very minimal effort. It will save us a lot of money. We are The Happy Chicken Farm after all and happy chickens demand mealworms and mealworms a plenty.

If you or anyone you know has seen mealworms please contact me! Send wormy thoughts my way. They have to be around here somewhere…