How do you know when you are ready to begin something big? How you know when you can handle a new pet? How do you decide when you are ready to expand your family? When do you feel ready to launch a blog or take a new job?
What if those are the wrong questions?
I think the right question to ask is, “What one step can I take toward what I want?”
I’d like to introduce you to the three newest members of our household: Honey, Rosie and Queen.
I have wanted to have chickens in the backyard for years, but each spring the chicks appear in the feed stores and I feel unprepared. I don’t have a coop, I don’t know what breeds I want, I don’t know how to take care of them. Chickens live for a long time – 8 or 10 years for some breeds. I have trouble imagining my life more than a year or two from now, so making an 8-year commitment has given me pause every year. Until this year, when something shifted and I knew this was the spring we were going to buy chicks.
Raising chickens is my new big thing. These are the small steps I took that made my big thing not so scary after all.
I made a list of questions I had about owning backyard chickens. I needed to know the zoning rules for my city. I needed to learn basic chicken care and what health issues to watch out for. I needed to know how many chickens I could safely house in the amount of space I had. And I needed to know which breeds were recommended for both high egg production and living with a small child. Once I knew what I needed answers to, it was fairly easy to find those answers. I picked up and read a couple of books, I found some online forums on urban chickens and asked some questions, and I read through the zoning code.
Whatever your big project is, make a list of your unknowns. Break down the questions until you can answer them.
Build A Team
I knew I couldn’t shoulder the burden of chicken care on my own, even if I was their primary caretaker. I sat down with my guy and told him I really wanted to raise chickens, but I needed his support for the project. I explained all that I had learned in my research, what I thought the costs would be, and I showed him cute pictures of little kids and chickens (to illustrate the positive aspects, you know?). I may have also fed him an egg dish made with local farm chickens.
Get clear about where you need help to make your project move forward. Do you need help with the workload? Do you need extra childcare? Do you need a cheering squad or someone to hold you accountable? Reach out and ask for what you need. You may be surprised how much the people who love you want to help you achieve your dreams!
I don’t really know what to do with a sick chicken. I don’t know exactly when to switch my chicks from chick feed to laying feed. I know a lot more about chicks than I do adult hens, because chicks are what we have now. But I do know where to find more information when I need it. I trust that I will figure it out as I go.
[pq align=right]Don’t wait until you know everything to begin.[/pq] Trust yourself to experiment, learn, try and try again.
One Thursday in April, as I packed Bean off to Grandma’s house for the afternoon, I said, “When you come home, we will have baby chicks!”
I had a box and a heat lamp and a list of breeds that would meet my needs. I knew chicks were delivered on Thursdays at three feed stores in my county. We didn’t have an outside coop yet and I still wasn’t clear on feeding details. By that night we had three baby birds warm and cozy in our bathroom, peeping quietly to us as we settled down to sleep.
Research can become a procrastination tool. You have to leap. If you need to, set yourself a deadline. Take that first step. You might need to learn more before you can take the next step, but just begin.
A big commitment begins with a single step toward believing everything will be fine. Whether your commitment is getting chickens, starting a business, or moving across the country, the first step is just that, a step. It may not be a confident step, or a big step; it just needs to move you closer to where you want to go.