The New Shed

It was a warm Christmas morning in early September. My dearest neighbor and I were chitchatting when she caught a glimpse of my Christmas present coming up the hill on the back of a flat bed……(so much like Santa and his sleigh it's uncanny, really…..)

I jumped up, grinning from ear to ear, an 8 year old all over again; rushed to get my camera, boots on, and out the door…..I think I might have invited my friend to stick around and watch the delivery but I can't be certain. She was too excited to worry about my lack of manners I'm guessing…..

The new shed, coming down the street….

….then down the hill that is our back yard…..

….and being backed up onto the gravel pad…..

……and dropped off…...

….and pushed around…..

….until it was in just the right spot…..

……for the chickens…..

"How do you like that chicken coop now, dear neighbors?" …Oh wait, that is not very Christian of me. (Kurt says I can't paint it on the side of the mini-barn either…..sheesh….men.)

This gift from my mom got a very similar response…..if I didn't love her (the hen, well, and my mom too!) so much, I might leave her on my neighbor's doorstep with a dozen fresh eggs, you know, as a peace offering…..snicker snicker.

Have a lovely week my friends!


Why Chickens….and Other Assorted Questions

People ask me all sorts of questions about the chickens so today I thought I would attempt to answer the most frequently asked questions. Feel free to ask more in the comments and I will try to find a moment to answer those as well!

Q.  Why chickens? 

A.  This seems like such a bizarre question. (No judgement of course.) First off, there is the obvious: 

Maybe I am crazy but a dozen fresh eggs every day is reason enough, right?
Second, there is something quite satisfying about learning new things, especially about another living species. Even the kids have picked up on some of the more interesting chicken facts, throwing around things like: "Did you know that Silkies have an extra toe?" and, "Did you know you can determine the color of the eggs by what color the chicken's ears are?! Our Silkies would have blue iridescent eggs…. you know, if they weren't roosters!"  (Ok, that might not be totally accurate either but it is fun to imagine! And we do in fact get some whitish eggs from our hens with white ears and some speckled eggs from the more confused hens.)
Note the white spots on the first middle egg and the color difference between the bottom two right eggs.  

Finally, unlike your more typical pets, Chickens create new conversation topics at neighborhood gatherings and can even become the life of the party (ok, maybe that is an exaggeration but really, if I didn't have chickens then this older ex-military guy and I would not have had an entire conversation about launching headless chickens into oncoming boats out of his military grade launchers because the recently beheaded chickens would do so much more damage (than live chickens) because they'd run around with their heads cut off spewing blood everywhere…..it's about levity folks, levity.)

Q. Have you always wanted chickens?

A. Well, no. When I was ten, I wanted a little red Mercedez convertible with a black top. And a two story water slide that went from my bedroom into an indoor swimming pool….never mind the fact that I don't really like swimming. By my teens, I wished for a '64 Mustang (although I can't complain about the red firetruck, er, SUV that I drove) and an insanely expensive violin. In my twenties, I would settle for a decent guy (thank goodness some wishes come true), an antique-looking dresser and a playful pair of overalls. So, no, chickens were never on my radar. Cowboy boots? Sure. A chimpanzee? Well, duh! What kid from the 1980's didn't want a chimp after watching Matthew Broderick in the 1987 movie Project X? No brainer. But chickens are a more recent phenomenon, one that comes from recognizing there is an entire world of animal husbandry out there that's going on without me!!….. Something that allows me to teach my kids hard work and patience and the pay off from both……ok, ok, really I just thought it would be cool to create a hobby farm for no apparent reason other than it would be something new……and maybe offer some more blogging material….oh, and eggs. There's always the eggs! 

Q. What is the best part of raising chickens?

A. This is a tough one. Our 24 chickens bless me with much more joy than I would have ever imagined. (Ok, truth be told, there are about 6 that truly add joy to my life…..and at least one or two who may have a special place at dinner one night if they aren't careful!) But really, they are the funniest creatures! For example, our coop has five nest boxes but almost daily I will find four chickens trying to squeeze in one nest box all at the same time while the other boxes sit completely empty. And when I come out to collect eggs mid-morning, there are usually 6-8 eggs in ONE NEST BOX! It's like they have taken lessons from my kids who continually occupy the same bathroom I happen to be in regardless of the fact that we have like half a dozen other bathrooms totally empty! And when I have a few hens roaming about with me and I start picking grass for those stuck in the coop, the outside hens (who have acres upon acres from which to feed) come running over to eat what I am picking…..because, again, like my kids, they want what the others are getting even if it is EXACTLY THE SAME as what they have in front of them.

But my favorite part about the chickens is our morning hunts. I take out my favorite six and we walk around the yard and a few of the smarter ones follow close behind my dragging boot. As soon as I find something, I squat down and give them my signal and they come running to catch whatever grasshopper or cricket is sitting there. But they are pretty awesome hunters even when I am not helping. One day, I caught a little cricket and took it over to give to my favorite hen, Superman, but when I got there and started to open my hand, Superman looked up at me with the biggest grasshopper I have ever seen dangling out of her mouth as if to say, "Seriously? That's the best you can do?" She's kind of a show off.

Anyway, that's it for now. I apologize for being so darn behind on the blogging. I know you have experienced too many sleepless nights wondering what happened to us…..we didn't fall off the planet or anything…..I just happened to take a new coaching position this fall because apparently free time is overrated, and I am insane, and so things have been a tad busier than usual. I will make an effort to write a little more frequently.

Next up: The New Shed (a.k.a. "How do you like that chicken coop now, neighbors?!")