Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jumping in With Both Feet: How Chickens Won a Place in My Heart and My Yard

There are as many different approaches to a chicken coop as there are people to think them up. Some coops spring fully envisioned from artistic minds. These dangle with wind chimes, incorporate hand painted signs or stained glass. Some are carefully crafted with an instinct for layout and design that would impress Frank Lloyd Wright. Some are built with elaborate runs or with a salute to the pastoral days of old. My coop is not one of those.

Someone once told us, years ago: “If you wait until you’re ready to have kids, you’ll never have them.” Fourteen years and three children later, we’ve decided “ready” is an over rated concept and have learned, instead, in no small thanks to our chickens, to embrace the here and now. When our middle son’s second grade class decided to incubate three eggs we happily volunteered to give them a home. Never mind we had no coop. If they come—we will build it, right? Thus began our life with chickens.

Of the three eggs, two hatched quickly grew into incredibly handsome, proud and . . . alas, illegal roosters. By now the coop had been built, the small corner of yard fenced off and the heartstrings of all three children irrevocably pulled into the joys of chicken ownership. There was no turning back. In the two years since then, our flock has expanded and dwindled and expanded. We are currently housing Black Copper Marans, an Amaraucana, an Orpington, a Leghorn, a Showgirl, a black Silkie bantam, a Giant White Cochin, and several darn good layers of no particular breed. Our girls range in age from three years old down to six weeks.

Their yard is covered with a patchwork of overhead wire, netting, branches and tarp which may challenge those who prefer clean esthetic lines, but it serves to deter the hawks who nest in the surrounding trees. The coop itself has remained secure and was recently updated with an automatic coop door opener which is worth its weight in gold as it lets the girls out in the cool of daybreak, and closes them in at sundown whether we are home or across the river. Though the coop is more functional than attractive, and the yard has been well used, our chickens are forever luring us to spend time with them and their incredibly individual personalities. -Beth Northcut

No comments:

Post a Comment