February 28, 2008

Yup, I did it ...

... 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!


Paul said...

This made my day.

Matilda said...

Um, Fanny + hens = disaster!

Ok, I've always wondered how much hens cost. Drop me a line