In the beautiful west hills of Portland Oregon live a brood of hens. They are owned by Lynn and Blake Osmundsen. They don’t live “in town” and so have different problems and constraints compared to more “in town” chicken owners. I decided to ask Lynn few questions regarding their chicken ownership and we discussed everything from casual coyote snatching to our favorite bedding type.
Q 1. Why do you have chickens?
Lynn: “I like productive things. I like farming and gardening and chickens produce. And they are fun to have, they are…friendly.”
Q 2. How long have you had chickens?
Lynn: “About four years.”
Q 3: Any tips you have picked up with your chicken experiences?
Lynn: “Having a large coop is good because they can stay in for a couple of days. Easy access to the nesting box. Also easy access to water is important. That is why we installed the rain catching water barrel…If you keep the food near to the coop make sure to keep it in metal containers to prevent rats from getting in. Scraps are good to feed your hens but make sure that the rats aren’t also eating the scraps. Then, a fenced in area is key [The Osmundsens have besides an enclosed chicken run a five foot fence around a large area for the chickens to roam] because something will get them. Dogs will get them, coyotes will get them, raccoons will get them. Also it is nice to have different age chickens so that they are not all laying at the same time. I like mine to be about a year apart [Many chicken manuals do not recommend this as older chickens will abuse and harass younger chickens, but in my point of view if you have enough room and want a steady stream of eggs and not a huge glut it seems like a fairly good idea].”
Q 4: Favorite Portland chicken resource?
Lynn: “Urban Farm Store is a really good resource. I like Linnton Feed but Urban Farm Store has better chicks. Also the food is really good. They have great options for feed.
Cornel Farms is starting to have chicken feed and bedding and other chicken accoutrement.
I am a huge fan of Urban Farm Store they have everything from goats to ducks. Our chickens got some goopy eye disease and they recommend a medication to put into their water and it cured them right away. They are very knowledgable about all things farm.”
Q 5: Food type? Bedding type?
Lynn: “I feed them the Urban Food Store organic layer food. I think it might be packaged just for them. I can’t find it anywhere else. Cozy den pine shavings.”
Q 6: Describe your coop.
Lynn: “Um, It is wood and metal… Self contained. It is very well protected from the elements. I am always confused what is the coop the whole part or just where they sleep? I like our coop because it is self contained. It has room for the chickens to run around. Its safe and it has the laying box. I like having the laying area higher up. It seems cleaner and is definitely easier to access. Easy cleaning is essential for coops. We put used linoleum on the coop/nesting area so it protects the wood floor from rot and makes it very easy to clean.”
Q 7: Describe your chickens.
Lynn: “They are very different, multiple personalities. The buff orpingtons are good layers. We had a great americana who was very smart and was able to escape from the coyotes. When she got eaten is when we decided to fence in the chicken area. Lots of personalities based on breed. And there is definitely a pecking order based on size. The brahmas are on top and the easter egger is on bottom. The buff orpingtons are really nice friendly hens.”
The executive summary
Lynn’s chicken situation is a little different than some. They have a little bit of acreage and also are close to lots of nature (read: predators). With those factors in mind they have made some choices in chicken keeping. They have an enclosed fenced area to keep the chickens safe. People living truly in the city would have a hard time devoting so much space to there chickens. This also allows her to keep 7 chickens. Not a huge number but a lot more than would be recommended for a regular back yard. The Osmundsens have a wonderful flock of chickens and they recommend anybody who would like another productive member of the household to get a hen or two.