Working our angles

Scene: Lunchtime, Armstrong sitting to my left, Tyrant sitting to my right. Somehow the topic of chickens comes up, maybe because we’re eating a chicken salad. Or maybe because I’ve been talking about nothing else since I found out we could raise our own in the backyard. I would name them after my personal heroes: this hen is Thom Yorke. And this one is Ramona Quimby. And that fancy one over there is The Avon World Sales Leader.

I say to Armstrong, you know, most people support the idea of chickens. I’ve heard a few horror stories, but the majority of the feedback has been overwhelmingly in favor of the idea. And the Internet always knows what it’s talking about. You can trust that the Internet would not lie to us about chickens. If you do a Snopes search on chickens, turns out THEY ARE REAL.

Armstrong doesn’t even flinch. He takes another bite of his salad, swallows, and then says, nope. We’re not getting chickens. In fact, before we ever get chickens he’d string himself up by his nipples with a set of rusty nails and fishing wire and dangle from a pole over a den of angry Republicans.

Tyrant, having grown up on a farm in Southern California, reaches across me and my plate, waves his arm in front of Armstrong and says, “But I know chickens like the back of my hand. Lovely creatures, they are.”

Have I mentioned I recently gave him a raise?

This time Armstrong clenches his jaw. He’s not budging. He won’t even say anything. At this point Tyrant has gotten up from the table and is throwing something away when he catches my glance and winks at me.

“Jon,” he starts, “what if some anonymous person sent Heather some chicks in the mail? What would you do then?”

“EXACTLY!” I scream. “You couldn’t just send them back! They’d die! And you couldn’t just abandon them! They’d be homeless and alone! We’d HAVE to raise the chickens then!”

“Oh, we’d raise the chickens, alright,” Armstrong says. “After I hire a private investigator, find out exactly who sent those chicks, and then show up at their house and punch them in the groin.”

Any takers?

  • slcEB

    I was with you, Heather. Yay, chickens. Yum, free-range eggs from your own back yard. But I was talking to my mom recently, and mentioned my neighbors-two-doors-over having chickens, and how I was thinking about it. She then reminded me of the chickens we had when I was 7 or 8. We ended up with them when my first-grade class did the obligatory “science experiment”, incubating eggs and watching the cute chicks hatch. Then what do you do with the chicks? My mom got suckered into adopting them. So we raised them, gave them names, treated them like pets. Somewhere along the line, we ended up with a one-legged rooster, too, but no one can remember how that happened. I don’t remember ever getting eggs from the chickens, but I do remember there being poop everywhere, and my brother and I seemed to get every kind of weird infection a kid could get. There were fleas, too (this was CA, not a problem in UT). So now I gotta side with Armstrong. Eew, chickens. Yay, grocery-store free-range eggs.

  • StephHyne

    Unfortunately I have to agree with Jon. I hate chickens. Nasty, filthy, horrible things. I have had issues with chickens, it’s a lifelong hate hate relationship that a psychiatrist would probably have a field day with.

  • martinifontaine

    You’ve opened a big can of worms there lady! Be careful what you ask for because we chicken enthusiasts will happily send you baby chicks to cuddle and soon you’ll have a flock big enough to supply every Avon rep in three counties with eggs!

    That said, you could easily raise two hens (roosters tend to bug the neighbors) in a clean and tidy chicken tractor that you move around your yard which would probably keep you in and family in plenty of eggs. And if you’ve been through Coco? Chickens will be a piece of cake! Although, Coco will try to eat any baby chicks you get, so be forewarned. I meet people every spring at the farm store who are replacing the baby chicks that their dog thought was just a tasty snack.

    Wow, this is so exciting! I would be surprised if Jon wasn’t pleasantly surprised at how easy, personable and just…zen chickens are.
    Here’s the photo story of our backyard flock:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinifontaine/sets/72157617749283195/

    And I would also suggest checking out:
    http://www.backyardchickens.com

    They are so ridiculously easy, there isn’t any reason why anyone with an extra 60 square feet *shouldn’t* have them.

    Good luck!

  • mommyoffour

    I love the chicken idea. Jon needs to get on board. Maybe Marlo needs to “receive” some baby chicks for her first birthday!! If they’re a gift you’d HAVE to keep them, right?! Don’t want to be rude to a gift giver. Think of Marlo’s happiness!

  • WashingtonMama

    One year my MIL got us baby chicks for Easter. That’s they way to do it, have a grandparent get chicks for the kids. There is NO way to get rid of them then without facing the wrath of the grandparent and the child.

    I hated those chickens…even after we grilled them.

  • mdavis79

    I’ll do it! My boyfriend finally caved and let me get 4 chickens this spring, and I absolutely love them. I even conned him into building a nice coop for the backyard. Now that he’s about to start getting delicious, fresh eggs every day, he has suddenly stopped complaining about my four lovely ladies. If you’re dilligent about keeping the coop and run clean, the smell can be kept to a minimum. Just make sure to keep the little ladies away from the dogs and you should be fine. Good luck!

  • martinifontaine

    I’m sorry for posting twice…I just can’t stand it.

    1. Our chicken don’t smell bad. But I attribute it to the fact that we move them to a new grassy area each day and we have enough space to let the lawn recover between chicken seatings. In fact, our lawn has never been healthier.
    2. There are predators everywhere, and this has never really stopped anyone who wanted chickens from owning them. There are always measures you can take to keep them safe(r).
    3. Our girls only make noise when they are laying, and as others have noted, that is later in the day (say around noon) so they don’t wake you or the neighbors like a rooster would.
    4. Chickens would be the easiest part of your day. Daily we spend *maybe* ten minutes with the “care” portion of dealing with our 5 chickens, and that includes gathering up the beautiful eggs that they lay.

    Read, read read! There is a ton of information out there and people who are making it work in all sorts of situations. It’s possible! You can have it any way you want it…now how many things in life can you really say that about?

    Cheers!