Escaping L.A. To Keep Chickens In Northern California

Southern California was a dream until it wasn't for Lisa Wilson, who finally left L.A. for Northern California to enjoy family and a flock of eight chickens.

by Chicken Chat
PHOTO: Lisa Wilson

Surf’s Up” was my life’s backdrop having lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, surrounded by friends and family who lived for the perfect wave. Long days at the beach turned into endless choices of live music at night. So after shaking the sand out from between our toes, we headed to all the venues popular in the entertainment mecca of Los Angeles. 

The Sunset Strip offered up little-known bands that later became famous—Mötley Crüe, Van Halen and countless others—telling us what we already knew: SoCal was the place to be! I secured my career in the entertainment industry. Today, however, my favorite group is a flock of chickens!

Read more: At Hasty Hen Farm, it’s all about raising chickens and making fine wine.


A 20-year deal my husband and I made about leaving Southern California was playing out. It was time to escape the neverending bumper-to-bumper traffic and head to Northern California. Here we have access to the beach as well as beautiful lakes and hiking trails. We also enjoy the quirkiness of our new home in the gold rush town of Placerville, where everyone knows your name and the local coffee roaster always brews the perfect cup.

We packed up our bulldog and turned the page to our new adventure in October 2018.

I had wanted to raise backyard chickens for a few years prior to our move to Northern California. And I did as much research as I could before we took the plunge. We decided that we wanted to select a variety of breeds and celebrate their individuality. And, with it, we wanted to keep it light-hearted and fun.

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My daughter and I decided that we’d name the chickens after the female characters from the I Love Lucy television series. A bit of Hollywood still remained with us in our new home. We roared with laughter imagining these fluffy beauties running to the sound of their new names.

Enter Lucy Ricardo (Red Sex-Link), Ethel Mertz (Buff Orpington), Mrs. Trumble (Naked Neck), Betty Ramsey and Caroline Appleby (Easter Eggers), and our newest littles, Mrs. McGillicuddy (Rhode Island Red), Marion Strong (Barred Plymouth Rock) and Cynthia Harcourt (Barred Plymouth Rock).

“The Tropicana” was open for business!

northern california chickens
Lisa Wilson

Home, Sweet Home

Watching our girls is one of the greatest pleasures. They’re comical and communicative and reward us with funny antics on a daily basis. We’ve learned how they alert one another when our bulldog (who believes they are his chickens) is near, when the treats are coming and when one is annoyed with a coop-mate. They curiously tilt their heads to get a better look at our faces when we squat down to talk to them. 

To enjoy the wonderful bounty of eggs they bestow upon us, we keep them busy with chicken activities, healthy fruits and vegetables and a coop clean enough I’d even settle in for a nap! They’re living their best lives. Though they can’t know what that means, it’s enough to see them thrive the way they do.

We believe in life’s experiences that keep us discovering that, despite the world’s challenges, our lives continue to build richness in memory. This is what led us to Northern California and to our eventual flock of chickens. The age-old question of “where do you see yourself in five years?” keeps us daydreaming in positive ways.

Our girls remind us that we all have a path to follow. And we’re so grateful that these little darlings have come to roost on our path. 

Take the plunge! If it’s not the plunge you were thinking of, swimming to the side always gives you time to reassess. 

Lisa Wilson is a lactation consultant and perinatal educator. Her love of live music continues as does her passion for English Bulldogs, craft coffee and her new granddaughter. She can often be found talking nicely to her new vegetable beds while munching on doughnuts and planning her next hike.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Chickens magazine.

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