After two decades of fast-paced city life and a bustling photography career, Tania Soderman packed up her family and left San Francisco for Sonoma, where she envisioned giving her children a more humble, down-to-earth existence.
In creating this new life for her family, she sought to create a “slice of Norway” — where she was born and raised — by creating a small farm on her 3-acre property on the outskirts of the city of Sonoma. Now her farm has approximately four dozen chickens, along with ducks, quail, rabbits, geese, and a herding dog named Ollie.
Walking into Soderman’s farm, which she has named Sonoma Chicks, is like walking into what one can only imagine is a chicken’s idea of paradise. Beautiful red and white coops with artistic accents are strategically placed for the chickens to be able to easily roam among them, flowers line the fenced areas where the animals are kept at night, and chickens of all colors, sizes, and breeds are spread throughout the property.
All of the structures are customized by Soderman, who takes basic frames or older coops and refurbishes them into charming homes for her animals. Everything from the sanding to the painting is done by hand, and she outsources only for heavy-duty items like roofing (for which she uses local vendors). The theme of red and white is consistent from the coops to the red and white roses to custom name plaques that indicate which animals are in the different coops.
There is one large coop in the center of the yard, adorned with a vibrant barn door. Smaller coops built to look like small houses are attached to the central coop, with electric doors that automatically open for chickens to pass from the main areas to the specific nesting areas (each with a small, hand-painted name plaque for chickens incubating eggs).
Soderman estimates she has roughly 30 breeds of chickens, if not more. She has gradually added chickens over the last four years, some coming from eggs shipped from around the world that she incubated and some coming to her as rescues, including several that arrived after the 2017 Wine Country wildfires. One of her goals is to have a wide variety of different colored eggs, as each breed lays different shades.
Soderman currently allows some visitors to her farm — primarily through word-of-mouth and local schools visiting for class field trips. In the springtime, Sonoma Chicks is blooming with flowers and surrounded by greenery, which is Soderman’s favorite time to entertain visitors. To learn more about Sonoma Chicks or contact Soderman for a visit to the farm, check out her Instagram at @SonomaChicks.