About a decade ago, I found myself longing to feed my family quality food and to be able to work together to produce it, just like the previous farming generations of my family. In Central Minnesota we’re blessed to be surrounded by many family farms, however, I didn’t inherit a family farm, nor did we have a lot of acreage, but I did have that inner farm-girl-spirit to begin raising our own animals, fruit and vegetables.

After much research, we began raising chickens. This was the perfect animal for us to raise in our backyard. Originally, I thought the eggs would be the number one benefit, but we quickly realized many other benefits of keeping hens: they’re great compost machines, they eat bugs, they’re easy to care for, etc. 

And aside from the measurable benefits, they’re funny, pretty and full of personality. But one of the best things about backyard chickens — at least for me — is simply that they remind me to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. They’re companions.

I am fortunate to have lived in Stearns County my entire life. Today, our property is adjacent to my parents’ Angus farm. Directly behind our home is pasture land and the highest hilltop on the farm, boasting views for miles around. We also enjoy the marsh areas of our property and the animals and plant-life that call the marsh home.

During a typical day, it is not uncommon to welcome my parents’ Black Angus cattle to the fence along our backyard; chickens roam the yard foraging for bugs; ducks swim in the pond; and the cat is almost always stretched out on the porch.

We are blessed to have a few acres to raise chickens, ducks, cats, a dog and a large garden. When my job, chores or other commitments become overwhelming, I just take a couple of steps outside to be reminded: slow down, don’t worry. As silly as it sounds, watching the chickens, cows or any animal as they go about their lives in a quiet, practical way helps to teach me, sometimes, how to go about my own.

I find such simple beauty in growing things, so much so that I wanted to write about it, so I started a blog about a year ago. I wanted to share with others the everyday joys I find in tending to my animals and daily life on our little property.  Chickens slow me down, they allow me to appreciate the little things more. I can’t think of a better place to raise chickens and my family than right here in Central Minnesota, where life is grand, if you take the time to notice.