Sep 9, 2011

Spotlight: Ethel Hogue Ealson

Ethel and I are friends on facebook. We have talked about things like cooking pork chops to how great I think her chicken coop is. I found her to be a very interesting person to talk to and told her she should be a writer. She then told me that she was. I knew she had to be because she had such a gift with words. I could envision everything she was talking about. Today I am pleased to have Ethel as our person in the Spotlight.
Ethel with her
Sun Conure Lolita, when she was a baby.

Poultry raising is a little different in urban settings, with a standard size yard.  There are more things to consider before you get your chicks.  Check your City, or County ordinances, and get approval from your neighbors, if you want to keep a good relationship.   Promises of tasty eggs are a good start.

In my Southern California, San Diego County area home, we have it better than our city neighbors.  Depending on your lot size, we can have 25-100 chickens, and currently 1-5 roosters.  But… we wanted to go much smaller than that, and decided against a rooster to reduce the noise factor.

My husband and I have 1/3 of an acre, and we use every bit of it.  Much is devoted to my garden, both veggies and flowers.  My husband also has a garden railroad, which is designed around a small pond.  Last year we also started thinking about raising chickens again.  We tried once before, when we first moved into our home, but we didn’t put much effort into it.  This time, we planned on making a beautiful coop that would add to our garden, and pick out some fancy chicks that would be raised as pets, and producers of yummy eggs.  I researched coop features on line, and added my favorites to my list, which resulted in my beautiful coop “Casa de Pollo”.

We recycled our old front door, and old kitchen window into the coop. My husband and I designed, and built the coop together, and I painted each piece myself before the assembly.  After it was ready, I ordered my first set of 6 chicks online.  All the varieties I wanted were not available when I wanted them, so I had to make a second order for the other 5.  If I wasn’t so anxious for chicks, I would have waited the additional 6 weeks, and received them all at once, but I couldn’t wait to put chicks in the pretty new house we made for them.

I set up a nursery in my laundry room, using an old large dog crate, and lining the sides with cardboard.  It worked out real well, but they grew so fast!

At 3 weeks old we started taking them outside, and let them run around the coop.  They enjoyed it so much, that at 4 weeks old, we ran a heater to the hen house, and let them spend the night too.  This was in May, so it wasn’t too cold at night for them.

They quickly became big helpers too.  I don’t know how I could get the coop cleaned without them.

At 6 weeks old, the new babies will be arriving soon.
Bad news, all the babies arrived dead from the breeder.  I was devastated.  After a phone call to the breeder, it was determined they made a mistake anticipating warmer weather, so did not include sufficient heat packs for them.  My husband came home to comfort me, and we took a drive to a local feeder.  They told me they were getting some of the same chicks I lost the next day.  I went back, and brought home 4 new babies.

I wasn’t sure one of the Australorps would make it.  I had to be diligent in getting her to eat and drink.  It paid off on day two, and she ate so much, that she would fall asleep in the food.

Nothing prepared me for the whole introduction to the older girls though.  Oh, what a mess that was.  I read so many articles, and web advice.   I even used my Facebook connections for help too.  I was so afraid the older girls would kill them.  I don’t know where my sweet little girls went to.  They became these mean, pecking creatures

I set up a dog crate in the run, and left them there during the day, so the older girls could see them.  I brought them in for a short time during the night, but soon added another dog crate, so that there were two crates, with two babies in each one.  Everyone could see each other.  This was still a long process and extra work for me. 

Jackie was always my most loving, but is now the biggest bully of the bunch.  She goes out of her way to chase them still.  She was always first to set on my lap, but she must feel betrayed, so stopped.
We are finally through the integration, but I am in no hurry to rush out for more babies.  I have 10 girls, with the oldest at 22 weeks.  Still waiting for that first egg, which my husband says will be worth thousands of dollars.   But, I think he enjoys them too, and recently told me, he doesn’t think our garden would be the same without them.

Backyard Poultry published an article highlighting my coop in the Aug/Sept issue.  They are also publishing a short article of mine in the upcoming Nov/Dec issue.

Ethel Thank you so much for sharing this information with us. I read your last article and am looking forward to reading your next in the Nov/Dec issue of Backyard Poultry.


  1. i love it!! you know how i love my chickens !

  2. Ethel's coop is so unique. I loved reading her journey with the chicks. I've been there too. This article made me miss having chicks.

  3. I love Ethel's coop...makes me want to rebuild one for out here. Maybe you want some more chicks? I love this time of, chicks, birds.

  4. Congratulations on getting published! I haven't been here long enough to see much, but I can say that I anticipate the same kind of 'fun' learning experiences adding new layers to my hen house. The pecking order thing is a hard one to understand!
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is a friend of mine and I will certainly pass this along. She will be pleased. I love her chicken stories. The pecking order is something for sure. I just moved one of my hens into another coop and she is so precious, so much so that it only took 2 days for the others to get adjusted to her. I have a great pyrenees in the pen and he kept trying to get the chicken to go to his old funny. The dog would look up at the house as if to say mama this chicken is in the wrong place...
    Thank you for comments.