I’m not sure what happened to suddenly make backyard chickens so popular. Maybe it’s the economy – a handful of chickens cost less to buy than a nice dinner out. Maybe it’s the next step for those of us who have been recycling and buying second-hand for a while… we look around for the next challenge. Maybe it’s just a hipster thing. But if you hang out on Pinterest or read a shelter magazine, or pretty much just talk to anyone under the age of 50, you’ll end up hearing about their plans, desire to have plans, or how they executed their plans to build a chicken coop and welcome a little flock of fluffy ladies into their family.
When I was a girl my grandparents had a great chicken house built out in the woods, between their house and their enormous garden that provided countless jars of fresh-picked delicousness throughout the year. The memory of gathering those eggs has always stayed with me. The soft clucking of the hens as I unlatched the gate, the warm nest and feathers of the broody ones that only chided me a little as I took their eggs out from under them and put them in my basket. Later, sitting on the ground in the run digging hundreds of earthworms out of the ground when the chickens were gone.
I guess I’m joining the trendy urbanites who have decided to build a little coop and start collecting eggs. I’ve reserved six baby chickens to be delivered on April 28th. I’ve been reading about the care and feeding of chickens, and researching coop plans, and – just as important – trying to figure out what to name them.
The breeds I’ve chosen are Cherry Egger, Production Black, Gold Sex Link, Black Australorp, Partridge Rock and Ameraucana. One of each. They’re being hatched by a local farm, so they’re already proven in the climate and environmental pros and cons of the Ozark Mountains.
Usually, when I latch onto a new project like this, the hubster looks at me sideways and goes about his business just trying to stay out of my way. This time, however, he’s all about getting those chickens. He’d love to get ducks too, in fact. The biggest drawback there is that we have no water in the backyard. Kind of a big deal, that.
He went by the local Tractor Supply Company yesterday and picked up a little baby chicken kit with a feeder and waterer and mobile fencing… none of which we really need, but I’m happy that he’s going to join me in this adventure. We drew out a plan for the coop and run today, and it looks like he won’t get too crazy… he tends to overbuild, overplan, overspend on almost every project he undertakes. I love him dearly, but he’s a little impractical. From discussions I have with girlfriends, I don’t think he’s the only man like this.
But chickens are only one thing I’m going to do to try to make our family a little more conscious of our impact and responsibility to our home planet. In addition to harvesting some yummy fresh eggs I’m also planning to can my own veggies this year… I am joining a CSA and will be frequenting the local farmers’ market, since I can’t seem to make any tomato plants put on more than 3 fruits. I also want to put up some laundry line to cut down (a little) on the time we spend using the electric dryer. We already have a composter, but it’s been pretty lonely. I’ll be utilizing it more often – while I’m heading out to check on the chickens and take the sheets off the line…
Here are some of my favorite ideas for chicken names, thanks to my friends on Facebook:
Twilight females – Victoria, Rosalie, Bella, Renee, Esme and Alice
Grease (is the word) – Frenchy, Sandy, Rizzo, Marty, Vi and Blanche
Happy Days & Laverne and Shirley – Laverne, Shirley, Pinky, Joanie, Marion and Leather (remember her??)
Harry Potter – Hermione, Luna, Bellatrix, Lily, Minerva and Ginny
Musicians – Carly, Joy, Babs, Whitney, Florence, Adele
Hollywood – Kate, Audrey, Marilyn, Lauren, Ava, Rita
So, tell me… are you raising chickens? Composting? Canning your own veggies? Planning any of those? And please, feel free to chime in on name ideas. I have a few weeks to decide. 🙂