My New Friends
Friday, June 1, 2012
A couple of months ago I was talking to my friend Ann, she said she’d been talking to our friend Sara about chickens. Sara works at The Scrap Exchange, and does a bunch of different things — she’s a potter and teaches pottery and grows vegetables and makes art and just has a generally interesting life.
Ann said that Sara said she had had chickens before but her boyfriend had gotten rid of them, and she’d like to have them again but keeping chickens was too much for one person. (She’d recently gotten rid of the boyfriend, so that had opened things up.) Ann told her that she knew I was always in the market for fresh eggs and that she was pretty sure I would be willing to help, and that she would help too. We could have a little chicken share thing.
A co-op chicken coop as it were.
When I lived in New Jersey after graduating from college, I was able to get the best, freshest eggs from the farm down the road (Mrs. Winant’s farm) where my housemate would take her dog to play. They had a little shed where they would put the eggs out and you would leave a dollar and take a dozen eggs. It was such a dream, the eggs were divine.
I can get eggs at the farmer’s market here, but there are a bunch of problems — they often sell out early, they are $4.50 a dozen, and they don’t taste that much better to me than the Latta’s Egg Ranch eggs I get at Whole Foods for $2.29 a dozen. So I’ve generally resigned myself to eating Latta’s eggs, except under special circumstances when I might make a trip to get fresh eggs from one of my friends with chickens.
After the city council legalized chickens within city limits (a contentious battle that I will save the telling of for another day), I did think about starting to keep chickens, but it seemed like it would be a lot of work for way more eggs than I could handle. A better option seemed to be finding someone who might be interested in bartering eggs for … something. But I hadn’t done anything about that either.
So the prospect of sharing chickens with Sara and Ann was really exciting. Sara had the expertise and land, she already had gone through the permitting process, and she said she could build a chicken coop out of scrap wood and other materials she’d salvaged. Ann and I said we’d help out with whatever she needed.
It turned out that pretty much all of the help we’ve provided so far has been to look at the pictures Sara has sent and say, “Wow! That looks great! Way to go!”
Sara built a rockin’ coop from salvaged materials, including two old windows that I gave her that I had been intending to take to The Scrap Exchange for probably two years (sometimes procrastination works in your favor). She built nesting boxes, a roost, an outside run. She painted the coop to match her house.
It’s really awesome.
So then we had to get chickens. Sara said I could be in charge of that.
I quickly realized that I know NOTHING about chickens.
I tried to do a little research. I talked to a friend who has chickens. I got some books from the library.
My friend with chickens told me they get theirs mail-order from the hatchery. I was like What? You order chickens in the mail?
But I wasn’t sure if we wanted to do that. You can’t just drop the little fuzzballs into your backyard. What do you do with them until they’re big enough to go outside? My friend Lorri grew up on a farm and she said her grandma would keep them in a box in the kitchen with a light over it to keep them warm. She said it wasn’t a big deal.
Okay, so that was an option but I wasn’t totally sold on it. The minimum order is twenty-five so we’d have to go in on an order with our friend, I wasn’t sure how long it would take, etc. It seemed like it might get complicated.
I looked on craigslist and there were a few possibilities but nothing really jumped out at me.
Then Ann said she was at The Rock Shop and they had chicks there. Apparently The Rock Shop has become The Rock and Chick Shop.
We told Sara, she went and checked it out and said that seemed like a good option but she was going to wait a bit until they were a little bigger. But then she got impatient and went and got them.
They look like little alien dinosaur babies to me. I said this is the awkward adolescent phase, all gangly arms and legs and pimples.
I left town a few days after she got them, and I was crazy busy in the days leading up to when I left. Today we finally managed to get over there to see them.
They’re so cute!
I brought them some worms from my worm bin. They hopped around and snacked on the worms. Ann tried to pick them up and cuddle them but they were not so into that. (It actually reminded me of this scene from Bugs Bunny … I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him… )
I’m looking forward to spending time with them over the next few months, and I’m very much looking forward to getting some EGGS.