... I really did. Today I place an order for four hens: two Buff Orpingtons and and two Ameruacanas. I can still hardly believe I did it, hardly believe that the woman let me place the order once I listed my address as downtown Edmonton. But she took my deposit without saying a word. I guess money is money. And so come July, I will be the proud owner of four, year-old layer hens. I had wanted to get chicks, but after careful consideration, I decided I just couldn't run the risk of getting any roosters. I mean, how I would I dispose of them?
But the question with some of my friends remains: Why? And the answer is: I just like chickens. Of course, I want the fresh eggs. After having free-range German eggs all last year, with their firm, orange yolks, I just couldn't go back to the pale, slimy, mass-produced North American egg. (And if I think about American poultry practices too long I get heart burn.) I could buy expensive free range eggs from my local farmers' market, but the fact of the matter remains, I just like chickens. I like their colors, I like their flighty behavior, and I like that they produce eggs out their rumps every day with just a little food, water, and sunlight. How cool is that? Last year, on my rides through Bavaria, I often stopped by roadside farms and gazed for what seemed like hours at the amazing creatures within, clucking and pecking and stamping at the Earth: part dinosaur, part house pet. I mean, really. How cool is that?
Still, after the first wave of euphoria passes, I kinda wonder what exactly I've gotten myself into. I think I've learned about as much about chickens as I possibly can without having owned one. I've read the books on chicken health and behavior, I regularly check out the hen-keeping websites for city dwellers like myself, and I very carefully selected the breeds best suited to my weather and lifestyle. (Buff Orpingtons are the most docile of the winter-hardly birds, and Ameraucanas "winter well" and produce awesome blue eggs.) I know that it is not impossible to do what I'm contemplating doing. Lots of people in cities all across North America keep chickens. I just don't know any of them. I wish I did, though.
If I did, I would ask them how to construct an unobtrusive backyard chicken coop. As Kevin and I poured over various blueprints last night, we realized that not only was this a bigger project than anything we had attempted before, we probably didn't have the right tools for it either. Talk about counting your chickens before the eggs hatch!