Deep in the Agua Dulce community, surrounded by scenic mountain views and clear blue skies, lives a family that has 80 chickens on their 2.5-acre farm.
Victoria Lee, owner and founder of Lively Little Farm starts her workdays at 7:30 a.m. and ends them at 9:30 p.m. Although they seem long, her system to look after all 80 chickens is described as “simple.”
Her procedure only requires a quick bedding scrape and checking feeders, water and seeking out hatched eggs every day.
Lee is now hoping to share the backyard chicken raising experience through Rent the Chicken, a national service in which chicken farmers “rent” chickens and eggs to clients who either want to test the waters of backyard chicken raising, or experience nurturing an egg until it hatches a chick.
Lee and her husband, along with their firstborn, were living near the San Francisco area when her journey with backyard chicken keeping began. In early March 2020, before anyone predicted what was in store with a worldwide pandemic, she acquired her first three fully grown chickens that laid eggs for them right in their backyard.
“Two weeks later we were like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so glad we got chickens,’” Lee said. “I just loved having backyard chickens.”
Lee believes that a key part of sustainability is having sustainably sourced proteins, much like chickens, because it contributes to composting.
Her family began to intentionally throw out food scraps instead of packing it into a plastic bag that would be sent to the landfill. The chickens contributed to creating a sustainability cycle by consuming garden waste and then turning it into fertilizer that went right back to their garden and the chickens.
Lee wanted to be closer to her husband’s family and was looking for a larger space so they could “ramp up” the chicken keeping, she said. Now in Agua Dulce, she has grown her business and teaches people about sustainability, the positives of raising chickens, and how easy it can be while also ethically making sure her “toddlers,” as she refers to them, are not abused or mistreated.
Lee came across Rent the Chicken through a podcast. It’s an affiliate company that allows individuals to experience backyard chicken keeping with no long-term commitment.
If people discover that raising chickens in their homes isn’t something they enjoy or just doesn’t resonate with their lifestyle, Lee happily takes the chickens back to her farm where she knows that they will be safe and not face an unfortunate fate.
People often commit to raising chickens without sufficient knowledge or resources, said Lee. When individuals realize raising chickens is more work than anticipated, the chickens are often taken to local parks and abandoned.
The domesticated feathery creatures are left to fend for themselves and become prey to coyotes and other predators.
Audrey and Snowball, two sibling sisters that currently live at Lively Little Farm with the dozens of other chickens, were abandoned at Central Park in Santa Clarita when Lee’s mother-in-law rescued them. Now they both live a happy, healthy and safe life under Lee’s care.
“Audrey [and Snowball] is one of the reasons why I got into renting,” said Lee. “Somebody got them as baby chicks, probably for Easter … it happens all over the country but a lot in L.A. People drop chickens in Griffith Park all the time.”
“Renting is such a great option because people can try it ethically and sustainably. If it’s not for them, that’s really what we’re here for, we’ll bring them home and they have a safe place to come to.”
Although Lee is the primary caretaker for the animals, her husband helps with building the enclosures and other carpentry needs. During the fall season on chilly nights, she brings the baby chicks inside their home where her children enjoy spending time with them.
Not only does Lee rent out her feathery animals for a healthier lifestyle, but she also does it to expose people to a different way of life.
Some of her customers are people who have never had any farm contact and they want to give it a try, said Lee. “But a lot of times it’s either grandparents or parents who grew up on a farm, they loved having chickens and they’re really excited to give their kids that experience, which is really cool.”
Lively Little Farm, the only Los Angeles affiliate of Rent the Chicken, provides all the tools needed to make the rentals as easy as possible.
Lee provides the coops where the chickens will be in, also known as tractors, the food they consume to remain healthy, and other essentials. She also rents out incubators with seven hatching eggs if people wish to experience baby chicks being born.
“Sustainability and ethical animal husbandry are the two big reasons we got into chicken keeping in the first place. So it’s important to us that we keep doing that through the business as well,” said Lee.
For more information about Lively Little Farm, and their backyard chicken rentals, visit livelylittlefarm.com.