Friday, May 17, 2013
A new chapter begins
When we lived in Australia, a couple of my girlfriends had backyard chickens. At first, it seemed a bit out-there to me. I asked questions about it, but inside, I quietly marvelled at the crazy. I am passionate about local, fresh food, but chickens? Really? I buy my eggs from an organic farm at the farmer's market, and that seemed sufficient. Then, on one particularly grizzly day in the mama-trenches, my chicken-keeping girlfriend (hi, Katrina!) really sold me on the backyard chicken lifestyle. I remember the exact moment she did, and she wasn't even trying. I had been moaning about my two non-eating children, and she empathized about all the wasted food and effort...or at least the effort, because her "wasted" food went to the chickens and she got delicious eggs in return. Hello!
That was a light bulb moment, burning so brightly that it remained a (secret) criteria item when we were looking for a new place to live when we moved back to the States. The village where we now live allows up to 6 chickens, much to my surprise...but we rent; it didn't seem realistic. Yet as we hit our one-year milestone here, my chicken fever intensified. I found a coop, sourced supplies, even stalked and met two lovely local chicken keepers. It was time to ask our landlord, and I just knew she'd say no...except she didn't! She thought it was a wonderful idea (her words!).
The same day she gave us the go-ahead, a chicken coop was delivered to our yard. That morning, I sent an email request off to Bill at AmishCoops.com, and it just so happened that he was about to head to Michigan on a delivery and had room on the truck for my coop, which by some small miracle he had in stock. It felt meant to be. The coop is so cute and beautifully built that we call it the "chicken cubby house." I ordered occupants that same day, and yesterday, our girls arrived...by mail! Yes, the US postal service handles chickens! So funny.
While I can still hardly believe it, we have 3 chickens in our backyard! In a way, it's also almost like they have always been there. They are sweet and quiet and very easy-going. We happen to find them quite pretty too, sweet girls that they are. Their names are Lexi, Penny, and Sheila. My daughters could tell them apart straight-away, and they taught me the little differences so now I can too. The breed is Buff Orpington, which is the most popular backyard chicken breed in this country, largely due to the two factors that were most important to me: friendliness (especially with kids) and reliable egg laying.
Not wanting to keep all this fun and goodness to ourselves, today we hosted two classes of preschoolers (one in the morning, one in the afternoon) here to learn about backyard chickens and snack on some ice cream in the garden. It was Sundae Day at my wee one's school, so a location change enabled chicken fun and ice cream enjoyment at our house. Watching them watch the chickens, ask questions and cautiously stroke the feathers (thank you for cooperating, Lexi!) was so sweet. I wish I could have taken a picture, but I was chicken-wrangling at the time.