Chicken Co-Op: Homesteading With Neighbors and Friends

Wire Egg BasketYears ago, when all 7 of the kids were home, a flock of chickens was a necessity. I could go through 18 eggs for a single breakfast and custard for that hungry bunch used up another dozen. Things have changed. Only my youngest remains at home and a dozen eggs lasts me for several days, even with the occasional batch of custard. A big flock of layers seems like overkill, especially as most of the neighbors have chickens too.

Enter the chicken co-op. Our neighbors and friends have the same issue we do. They want fresh eggs from free-range hens but a dozen birds is too many for just the two of them. We joined forces and both families benefit. Bob had a good coop. He keeps the birds and we provide the feed. They travel to see their kids quite a bit. When they’re away from home, we take over the care of the birds. If there is a big job like cleaning the coop, we share the labor.

Keeping your family fed is a work in progress for most of us. We can’t all have the perfect little homestead meeting all of our needs. We have to improvise and compromise, co-create and co-operate. We wanted a cider press but the one we wanted was out of our price range. We joined 3 other families, sharing the costs and reaping the rewards. Now a half-dozen other families have joined our cider co-op. They bring what they can: cauldrons of soup or a loaf or two of good bread, their home-made music and home-cured ham. It works for all of us.

If my chicken club falls apart, I will likely splurge on one of the fancy coops for small flocks. They are easy to assemble and perfect for our limited needs. They are also about the cutest things I have ever seen and one would look great out back where the play yard used to be.

rustic barn chicken coop

Our brand new chicken coop is not only adorable, but is the perfect size for small backyard flocks. Find it at

Many communities have become far more open to the idea of chickens in the backyard. If you keep them clean and share on occasion, your neighbors will likely not mind a bit. In fact, they are probably going to be asking exactly where you got the great little coop. Make sure you have an extra Lehman’s catalog to hand out.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.