Sunday, June 8, 2014

On Chickens

One summer, some years ago, I spent a week in Portland Oregon and since then I have wanted chickens. My friend there had 3 hens who happily pecked around her yard, jumped up for treats, and supplied us with breakfast every morning which we ate out on the patio while watching them do their silly chicken things. I was enchanted. As the years rolled by and I grew and developed my wants and dreams, I realized who I wanted to be when I "grew up" - a woman who has chickens. More than that, certainly - a down-to-earth, reliable, fun, slightly kooky, fairly "earthy" woman - but a woman who owns chickens, for sure. This spring I have worked hard on my garden and enjoyed the rewards of planting seeds and being able to share their bounty with friends and family (and strangers!) a few weeks later. I have felt the pride that comes with sweat and sore muscles after clearing, weeding, and tilling a space for your favourite foods to grow. And not long ago, with Mr.'s full approval and equal excitement, it happened. I became a woman who has chickens.

 It happened so quickly - we bought supplies and built what is commonly known as a chicken tractor. We picked colours and painted in the hot southern sun. We overheated and made some wrong cuts, and we were sliced by stray pieces of wire. We made what seemed like 80+ trips to the hardware store (but was only 2, I'm sure). And after 2.5 solid days of work, we went and got our chickens. 3 hens of different breeds, a little worse for wear from their previous home, came to live in our little coop. Having my chicken experience limited to that visit to Oregon I did lots of reading and research before and after they arrived, and fretted over every aspect from coop placement to roost size, and about their feathers/legs/toenails... but it has turned out beautifully. They are silly and funny and magnificent. They sunbathe in the lawn and dirt-bathe in a pile. They chatter to us in their ridiculous chicken voices, telling us exactly what we should be doing or not doing with their home. And the best part: in less than two weeks we were rewarded with eggs - pink-ish brown beauties that never fail to make us laugh with the simple joy of their existence. How amazing that you can build a home for a creature, give it food and water and room to roam, and you are rewarded by little tokens of gratitude. Now, I know the chickens don't actually thank us with their eggs, but it sure feels that way. Already we're hoping to expand from three birds to five or six - they're addictive like that. And now, I realize my original goal was so misguided: I am so much more than a woman who has chickens.. We are a family with chickens, and with a full appreciation of all they are.

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