Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Baby Chicks! July 7, 2017

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 1:37 pm
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Last year, we got a new batch of chicks and one of the turned out to be a rooster, then later in the summer we adopted a second rooster, so hypothetically, we could start having chicks. Raising chickens is funny, because you walk a fine line between not wanting hens to get broody and sit on your breakfast eggs, but secretly wanting a few new chicks too. A couple of our backyard chicken friends had hens become broody this year, so we were hopeful it would happen for us too.

Finally, a few weeks ago, one of our Marans sat on a few eggs and we were off to the baby chick races. We tucked a few additional eggs under her and hoped for the best. We are terrible, I mean, extremely busy chicken farmers, and we forgot to mark which day she started (don’t do that), so the last few days have been torture. Finally, last night, we checked her and there were two cracked shells. Mama hen did a great job of hiding them, but I could hear the cheeping and finally, I found them!19780520_10213570361631745_3192537266254928052_oThey were so tiny and new, I left them alone to snuggle their mama.

This morning, our favorite local photographer, @photo_nerd, came over and captured a few adorable images of the new members of our flock.


Meet Butterscotch, born 7/6/17


And Charcoal, born 7/6/17


A Chicken Screams “Hawk!!” February 9, 2013

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 9:34 am
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hawkA few weeks ago, my husband reported that there had been a hawk over our backyard, terrorizing our chickens. The hawk had gone so far as to capture a squirrel and eat his snack while glaring at our chickens, who were cowering under the back steps. We considered moving them under better cover, but they seemed to do a good job of protecting themselves, so off we went.

Then yesterday, I’d had a long day of appointments and kids home from school for conferences, and by 4:45, I was exhausted, and came to my back office and stared at my screen, trying to will myself to write. That’s when I heard it, the panicked screaming of my chickens, clearly freaking out about more than a laying box squabble. I leaned over to pull my curtain back just in time to see a hawk swoop down into the yard to more chicken freak out noises. I couldn’t see where it had landed, or if there were victims, so I jumped up, leapt over my Kindergarten son, yelling something about hawks and chickens, and ran for the back door.

In my head, there was a voice pointing out that perhaps I should have a plan. Was I going to wage war with the attacking hawk? Maybe I should find safety goggles if that was the case. The other voice in my head yelled that there was no time for goggles and plans, to just get out there….but stop long enough to switch shoes for slippers. No way that hawk’s going to take you seriously with sheepskin lined slippers on.

I got outside, and 11 of our 12 chickens were cowering under a leaf-naked bush, but they were unharmed, and apparently glad to see me. The 12th chicken was a bird my daughter named “Featherless,” because she is half plucked from other’s fighting with her. She lays huge eggs, so we keep her, and hope that she’ll one day feather out again, but so far…no luck. Apparently, her lack of feathers had made her an easy target. I concerned myself with getting the others to safety. They didn’t have any interest in my shooing them across the yard, so I started to carry them, two by two when I could manage it, back to the coop, while the hawk watched from a tree two houses down, apparently threatened by my very shiny Danskos. Take that, Hawk!

I got all but two of the chickens cooped up when out came the 12th chicken, Featherless! I’ve never been so happy to see our most ridiculous looking bird. Another 20 minutes of chicken-around-the-lilac-bush later, and all the girls were safe and sound. And I had gone in to open a nice bottle of red wine…


Chickens of the Corn July 20, 2012

imageWe are in a drought in Iowa, and I’ve almost completely given up on growing corn this year in the garden. All is not lost, as the chickens love taking their dirt baths among the (pathetic) corn and tomato plants. I’m told by one of my fellow backyard farmers that chickens like a take baths in the dirt to clean their feathers and get cool. This is definitely the place for them!


A Sad Day for Urban Chickens July 11, 2012

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 8:26 pm
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image  I’m starting this post with a photo of the chickens happily munching on our peach cuttings from our peach tree. They’re happy here, and I need to focus on that. It’s taken me a few days to write another post after the last one, where my nine chickens looked so happy running around our yard. A couple days after I posted that, someone broke into our fenced back yard, tore apart our chicken run, and terrorized our girls with a hack saw that the criminal(s) brought with, and a sledgehammer we’d left out from some construction. When my husband found them, our girls were still loose in the yard, two were out of the yard, and one had been either chased or beaten to death (it was during the 100+ temps heat spell, so chasing a chicken to exhaustion wouldn’t have been impossible). I can only call this devastating to all of us, humans and chickens alike. As our nine year old daughter put it “This is awful two ways, one because they look so lonely, just the six of them, and now they’re going to be harder to mother.” (Yes, I could not love that child and her animal loving heart any more).

We reported it to the police. In our city, animal cruelty is an aggravated misdemeanor on the first offense, and a felony on the second, but that only helps if we catch these people. We have our neighbors keeping an eye out and an ear to the ground, but so far, we’ve had no word on who might have done this.

The chickens are recovering slowly. They aren’t as outgoing as they once were. In my last post, you can see that they’d walk right up to me without any treats offered. They’re not as afraid of humans as they were right after the massacre, but I don’t know if they’ll ever be as loving as they once were. I’d love to add more chickens, but we’re trying to regroup and let the coop emotions settle before adding more chaos…..chicken shiva, if you will. We’ll get there, eventually.


The Chickens Are Coming! June 23, 2012

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 7:57 am


The chickens are getting huge, but we have had one escapee. If you see one of these walking around River Bend, kindly escort her back…or at least call us. We’re also missing our mouser cat, Nick. Our almost 5 year old son is desperate to put up signs that say “Missing: 1 cat and 1 chicken. I may do it just for the comedic value.


The Chicks: One Week Later April 29, 2012

Filed under: Keep It Local,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 4:29 am
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imageMiraculously, the chicks have survived their first week with us! And they are growing like crazy. Sometimes, I will walk by them an hour later and I swear they’re bigger. They’re super cute, and pretty funny interacting with the kids and trying to hide from the cats. Luckily, the chicken coop is moving here soon, and we will no longer have predators and prey living together!

PS I suppose I should say, we got all Buff Orpingtons, for you chicken geeks out there!


Chicks Have Arrived! April 22, 2012

Filed under: Keep It Local,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 4:19 am
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ImageSomewhere along the way, I decided that raising chickens would be fun. We get our eggs from local farms, and they taste so much better, so why not get them right out of the backyard? I have a few chicken raising friends, and I found the Iowa Urban Chicken Farmers Facebook Page, so what could go wrong?

I decided to get 6 chickens, but then we got to the farm supply store and they were so cute, I thought “8 would be good.” I said 8, and my 4 year old son exclaimed “No! TEN!” So now we have 10 chickens, in a little box, and I feel like I-just-brought-my-first-kid-home awkward. What the heck am I doing? I’m a city dweller from New Jersey. How the heck did I end up raising chickens in Iowa? Too late now…the adventure begins!