Welcome, the chicken!  But not too many.  It costs almost the same to buy a pullet as to raise one, so if you can find some young birds that haven’t been debeaked (yes, really), buy as many as you have persons in your household and install them in either a simple chicken tractor (a mobile pen without a floor), or build a compost bin and keep them in that.

Chickens, commonly considered feathered machines for turning purchased corn/soy crumbles into eggs, actually specialize in surface tillage, bug-hunting and dropping nitrogen-saturated manure bombs.  These are services that make them invaluable in certain parts of the farm, and death in others.  Penned in the compost bin, they can be fed household scraps almost exclusively (this is why we limit the beginning homestead to only as many birds as their are members of the household), and will till and aerate whatever organic additions they don’t eat, building fabulous compost.  If their movements are confined to a chicken tractor, their tillage and bug-hunting can be directed to wherever they will do the homestead the most good — like clearing and adding nitrogen to a prospective garden patch.

“Free-range” them — that is, let them go where they like — and they’ll put their impact wherever it suits them, digging up planted beds, making dust baths in the yard, leaving their droppings on the porch or the hood of the pickup and their eggs where you won’t find them until  they’re beginning to stink — but, of course, giving the homestead just that homestead-y ambiance that makes folks think you’re the real thing.   It’s up to you.