Joey Elsisi

Upgrading my Lawn

Every homeowner wants it. A large, vibrant green lawn enclosed by a charming white picket fence. Though it serves no practical purpose - no animal grazes on it, it consumes more water rather than conserving it, and it is more delicate than many other plants - it remains the most widely grown crop in the United States. Its constant maintenance demands weed killer, fertilizers, weekly mowing, and copious amounts of water. So, what makes this wasteful space so desirable? Precisely because it is so wasteful.

The history of Lawns

The history of the lawn begins with the castles of French and English aristocrats in the late Middle Ages.

18th century lawn

Let's Raise Chickens

The cultural baggage is undeniable; we assume something is off next door if patches of dirt and bright yellow dandelions replace the conformity of freshly cut grass. However, understanding this history enables us to challenge the norm. We can reimagine how we use these spaces, starting with alternative and sustainable practices. The presence of subreddits like r/NoLawns r/FuckLawns show this growing belief, and offer tons of ideas for how to get started. I propose raising chickens.

Zoning and Regulation

A common mistake that new chicken owners make is not checking their local zoning laws. All it takes is a call to local officials from disgruntled neighbors to put your operation to a halt. I’m from Fairfax Country, and while chickens are allowed, any property under 2 acres must get a special permit. I’m lucky my neighborhood doesn’t have a Homeowners Association, but most people will have to check with their association’s covenant to avoid conflict. Getting this handled is different in each locality but must be done from the start.

The process to get an approval is exhausting, as can be seen in this petition. Any help to get this seen would be appreciated

Lessen Restrictions on Backyard chickens

Picking your Chickens

Once upon a time, the only chickens that roamed the earth were Red Jungle Fowl from East Asia. Since then, breeders have developed a wide variety of birds that serve different purposes. For most suburban setups, layers, birds selected to produce eggs, are ideal. There are also broilers which are bred for meat and dual-purpose birds that can do both.

Chickens are the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.


You do not need a Rooster for your hens to lay eggs, and in most localities you’re probably not allowed to own one because of how loud and aggressive they are. Hens will lay eggs regardless, but they just won’t be fertilized without a male chicken.

If you see a hen squatting on the ground, it wants to mate. To replicate a Rooster touch you can grab the hen from behind and shake a little. This will make them feel better.


Chickens need constant access to water and food to lay eggs. A cheep way to hydrate them is with a 5 gallon bucket and some chicken nipples . Unfortunately the feeders do freeze up in the winter, so you’ll need to water them with a bucket manually. When it comes to feeding you layers, nutrition is really important.


There are two structures necessary to raise chickens, a chicken run and a chicken coup. The chicken coup needs to have strong ventilation. It serves to bring in fresh air, keeping the coup cooler in the summer. In the winter, a lack of ventilation will cause condensation from the chickens breathing. This could cause frostbite or get the chickens sick. Keeping your chickens dry is much more important for their warmth than any source of heat. Predator proofing is a big deal. Unless it’s done right you will lose your chickens to fox’s, raccoons, hawks and so on.

Chicken Math

The number of chickens you can own depends on the size of your coop and the size of your yard. Chickens are social animals and need to be in groups of at least 3. They also need at least 4 square feet of space per chicken in the coop and 10 square feet of space per chicken in the run.

Chicken math is this idea that you say you’ll own 3 or 4 chickens and all of a sudden you have a dozen. This is a common problem that owners have because of how addicting it is to raise them. For this reason, when planning on the location to place your run our coup, make sure there’s extra room for when you inevitably expand your flock.

Chicken Run 2, a stop-motion picture, is being released in December 2023, 23 years after the original


Some breeds are better than others at withstanding the cold. Regardless, heat lamps are not needed. Chickens have feathers for a reason, and they’re not to fly. During the winter, they’ll build up their down to keep them warm. Heat lamps are bad for you because they’re expensive and energy intensive. They’re bad for the chickens because if the power goes out in the winter, the chickens won’t have the time to acclimate to the cold. A chicken could potentially knock over a lamp and start a fire. Fire roasted eggs don’t sound so tasty.

Don't stop at Chickens

Finally I’ve heard good things about owning turkey’s, ducks, quails, llamas, goats and honeybees. Fairfax County requires at least 2 acres of land for what are considered agricultural animals so I'll have to wait until I make a ton of money from this blog to buy more land. Each animal has something to offer and is definitely worth checking out.

TODO: climbing gym, sauna/cold plung

  4. Homo Dues: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Harari