It takes less than five minutes a day to collect the eggs, water, and feed my feathered friends. Once a week—yes I am fastidious—I spend ten minutes raking the dirty pellets in the coop and scraping up waste that I throw directly on to the compost pile. Once every two months, it is time to visit an agricultural supply store for grit (mostly ground up oyster shells), organic feed, and compostable bedding pellets.

In the winter, I add two bales of hay to toss inside the pen to ensure the hens don’t get frostbite on their toes when they wander outside. I add organic corn supplement to their feed because they can’t forage for insects when the ground is frozen. The corn also keeps the hens plump when temperatures drop so that the eggs remain large.

When we travel, I leave the hens up to a week at a time safe inside their pen and coop while we journey far and away. I’ll ask a neighbor to check their food and water levels every couple of days—usually in exchange for the eggs the hens lay.