Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

Featured community question that my father should just go ahead and skip

Today’s featured question comes yet again from user Brookelyn Bridge, mainly because it is so timely for me:

I’ve mentioned my friend Kate before (and no, this is not going to be a post about my lesbian fantasies, I gave those up when I realized that I really, really like penises), and she has this enormous garden in her backyard where she grows everything: lettuce, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, asparagus, you name it. I think she may even grow cream cheese and birthday cakes.

I find this really inspiring for several reasons. I mean, it’s great for the environment to grow your own food, but there she is fixing entire meals from food she’s grown in her backyard. She gifted me a potted tomato plant for Mother’s Day, and I was all, dude, you have set me up! I can’t walk away from a challenge, and now I have to do all this work and research to become the valedictorian of potted tomato plants.

If that plant dies I can guarantee you that NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW.

Anyway, to the point. There is one, I promise. The porn is in here. Sadly, it does not include lacy underwear or talk of anyone’s private bits. Which reminds me… okay. I lied. Private bits, here we come!

I can’t believe I’m going to write about this on this here Family Friendly Website, but the first penis I ever saw was on the small side. Like, tiny. And so going forward that was the benchmark: small and quaint. Hey, little buddy! What’s up, little guy? Here’s a stool you can use to reach the faucet to wash your hands!

And then the second penis I ever saw, wow. AWKWARD. It was supposed to be a special moment, but I thought maybe he was ill, or that something terrible was happening, because it was about ten times the size of the benchmark. And so instead of getting all romantic, I’m leaping backwards screaming ARE YOU OKAY?! THAT CANNOT BE COMFORTABLE. CALL 911! CALL 911!

Tangent!

Where was I? Tomato plant. Right. So, it turns out that our neighborhood is zoned in such a way that we could raise chickens in our backyard. I am not even kidding. Chickens. Like on a farm! COCKADOODLEDO! And since most of Kate’s yard is occupied by her garden, she doesn’t have room for a coop. BUT GUESS WHOSE BACKYARD DOES?

You guys, chickens. Can you imagine the content? I mean, Coco’s reaction alone would fill weeks and weeks of Internet Website Blogging. And I would name them all, and cuddle them, and love them. Fresh eggs every morning! Cluck, cluck, cluck! This is not an insane idea at all!

Except, Jon. He who is known as Armstrong, he actually threatened divorce if I put a chicken coop in our backyard, that’s how strongly he feels about this. Can you believe how unreasonable he’s being? It’s not like I’m asking for a pet pig that lives indoors! (He actually walked out of the room when I brought up that idea. Yesterday.)

All I’m asking for is three or four chickens to call my own. And now whenever I even start to say the word, when he hears the CHHH— he completely explodes and heads for the closet where we keep our luggage. And I find this totally hilarious. Because now I have leverage over his clogs: I have the chickens.

Really? No chickens? THEN NO CLOGS.

BOO-YAH!

And then yesterday morning there was some interaction in our office, and suddenly I get a notice on my phone that Armstrong has tweeted something:

I think that answers the question.

  • virtualcarly

    I don’t know this from personal experience or anything but I thought chickens were compatible with a yard full of garden…per You Can Farm and Chicken Tractor. Perhaps Kate’s yard is still an option. I think they would fertilize and control pests while providing eggs in her garden in an ideal world.

  • austinmomof7

    I have four chickens in a neighborhood backyard. They don’t make much noise at all and are terrific pets. How is a chicken any different than a parakeet? Except the chicken gives you eggs and the parakeet just craps on newspaper all day and creeps you out with those beady little eyes. Sorry, I digress. I love my chickens and think your husband is being totally unreasonable. Amen.

  • d3 voiceworks

    somewhere in here is a message about eggs and chicks and children and husbands. but i can’t quite elucidate. you get the pic.

    if your dogs have any rank, i guess i’d have to go with armstrong (with the y chromosome).

    what’s your new assistant’s opinion? and does it matter??!

    (my captcha is ‘are mundane’. that. is. sad.)

  • ALICIA B.

    I lost this same battle last weekend after I picked up the latest issue of “Organic Gardening” magazine (which I found at Home Depot). Serious porn. On the cover and all.
    Rather than risk my marriage… I’ve now found a lovely nearby farm through local harvest that will deliver fresh eggs to my door each week!
    I do hope Jon changes his mind. Though I will be incredibly jealous!

    http://www.localharvest.org/
    http://www.organicgardening.com/

  • Daily Cup of Jo

    Oh, you have to get chickens. My brother and sis-in-law have them. They call them “the girls”. There’s a ton of fresh eggs and occasionally, when the girls are asleep, they get their toenails painted. No kidding. It’s an endless comedy sketch. And with the ripe tomatoes come August, think of the omelets.

    C’mon, Jon. Don’t be a drag. It is so much better than the indoor pig.

  • The Expatresse

    We have been having the EXACT. SAME. ARGUMENT. chez nous.

    I, too, am a fan of the Eglu. Someone else beat me to the punch and posted a link, but, oh, how I fantasize about that!

  • The Expatresse

    You might like this article in The New Yorker by Susan Orlean about her backyard chickens:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/28/090928fa_fact_orlean

  • Megan Ellen

    My mother was impulsive. She would bring animals home just because, so I had both chickens and ducks as a kid. We would let them run around the backyard eating snails and bugs. Those summers were our most spider-free ever.

    It was a lot of fun.

  • Charm

    Chickens are awesome backyard farm animals! I have two (one which might secretly be a rooster!) and we’re on the cusp of eggs! Free ranging, joyfully entertaining and cat chasing chickens! I go out for 5 minutes in the morning and 15 each night then spend about an hour sorting their house on the weekend… Not too time consuming at all and best if all they really are just fun to sit in the yard and watch! Just make sure you put that tomato plant somewhere the chickens can’t get to! They LOVE tomato plants!

  • REBottoni

    Funny, my sister & I were just talking about chickens a few days ago. We grew up behind a small farm where the main crop was pansies. They also had two coops of chickens (and one rooster). I’m pretty sure you need a rooster (wake-up call at 4:30 AM sound good to you?) in order to get eggs. And you will have a side crop of FLIES, thousands of little black biting flies. And of course don’t forget the chicken-shit.

  • TravelSkite

    Yeah, chickens! MY husband swears by them as blood pressure lowerers. I’ve kept them for years and I love having them down the bottom of the garden. They’re not machines, though, and when it’s autumn as it is down here in New Zealand, they moult and look like mad professors. With beaks. Here, have a look: http://travelskite.blogspot.com/2010/05/before-and-after-and-here-not-away.html

  • genie

    You do NOT need roosters for the hens to lay eggs. Eggs are essentially chicken periods. No male needed, thank you. Males (ahem, roosters) can be a bit aggressive, loud and do things to the hens that will require some explaining to the girls. And maybe the Jo(h)ns.

    Chickens will keep the resident bug population low, till the soil for you and provide a good conversation point for where food really comes from. As in, humans do not make the eggs that are sold in plastic cartons in the store. Yes, that chicken leg used to be a REAL chicken leg on a real chicken.

    I grew up with 50 or so chickens on my parents farm. We annually butchered 25 or so of the young males (before they got too loud) which ended up in our freezer for later meals. Not my favorite thing but at least I know (and appreciate) where my food comes from.

    As we live in a more urban area now, we will be getting a small coop for about 10 hens (I will win this conversation with my hubby) so that my 2 year old daughter will have at least a small grip on food reality. Not to mention the chickens eating scorpions. Hopefully that will sway the hubby.

  • BlogalaCart

    O.M.G. I have been PINING for chickens to call my own and my husband (who, granted, was raised ON A FARM) has threatened divorce as well. I found these super trendy chicken coops – TELL ME YOU’VE SEEN THEM, Heather! The name alone kills me. EGLU! EGLU, y’all! https://www.omlet.us/shop/shop.php?cat=Eglu

    But um, it’s either husband or chickens.

    Some days I lean toward the chickens…

  • ladygray

    I shouldn’t be able to laugh this much at 6:57 am (after being awoken before the sacred hour of 7 by my 10 month old.)
    but the idea of your family + CHICKENS?! I died.

    That said, I live in Seattle, a real honest-to-goodness city, and down the street the neighbor has chickens. Wandering around their front yard. So, there is that.

  • heylucy

    A couple rebuttals to some previous comments:
    A few backyard hens aren’t going to smell. I’ve had as many as 18 chickens at one time, and occasionally someone drops a monster poop first thing in the morning that isn’t pleasent, but it’s more of a farm/manure smell. If you can handle picking up after your dog, chicken poop is nothing.
    Chickens eat bugs, and if you keep the coop clean, you won’t have any kind of fly problem. Regular additions of pine shavings keep the coop smelling good, I sweep them out completely every few months and throw them in the compost.
    Hens lay eggs without a rooster.
    There is really no good reason not to get chickens. Three or four will produce plenty of eggs for an average family, and they’re a lot easier to care for than cats or dogs.

  • Plano Mom

    I really feel pretty strongly about this. You do not want to have chickens sharing a yard with your loved ones.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histoplasmosis

    It says it’s rare, but a classmate of mine died from it.

    I can tell from your pics that you’re spotlessly clean, and I know I’m a little biased against it, but if you’re going to have chickens, please consider keeping them somewhere else.

  • LynnFlynn

    I came back from college last summer, and I kept hearing this noise every morning. It sounded like an animal in pain. Then I realized my neighbors across the street had gotten a rooster. A rooster with a speech impediment. He didn’t say “cockadoodledoo”, he said “GAAAAAAAAH!” They have chickens too, like 7 of them. And I guess they are taking the term “free range” to the extreme, cause these birds are always in the neighbors yard, pissing off indoor cats. I totally want chickens someday. Maybe like 3. I’d look out for Coco though, she might eat one.

  • KatieMick

    My sister got 25 chicks in March. Twenty five chicks grow up into twenty five chickens – I think her eyes were bigger than her brain – or their chicken coop in progress.

    She also wanted to adopt a blind goat and name it Little Stevie Wonder.

    My sister’s fiance had to have the fatherly talk about not adopting a blind goat.

    I think ARMSTRONG might be in the right here. Coco will officially go off the reservation if there are chickens in the blurbodoocery.

  • karan

    chicken poop stinks

  • cshift3

    My hubby recently suggested we get chickens…I was a little bit apprehensive, due to the fact that we have a border collie and a smallish yard.

    But we decided to give it a try, and got three Isa Reds. They are called Nugget, Rosie, and Selena Mcbokbok.

    Honestly they are low maintenance, the dog is already used to them (and vice versa), and the kids love checking for eggs.

    But the most surprising thing for me is how much I enjoy having them around. They make me laugh every day. Probably because it’s all still quite new and they are strange creatures.

    They each give us an egg a day…more than we would ever eat. So we share with the neighbours.

    I would recommend chickens to anyone interested in a different kind of pet.

  • MrsBagley

    Two words: Tax Deduction

  • Shannon_G

    I hate to disagree with you, especially this being my fist comment but NO CHICKENS! I live in South Arkansas and if you don’t know, Kirby, Arkansas is known for their chicken coups. They stink! All you have to do is drive through the town and you’ll gag. Also, chickens are mean. They won’t be cute and fuzzy forever. They bite. I say get a rabbit. I know that sounds stupid but I got my 15 month old a rabbit for Easter.I was really just wanting to take her picture with it then I was going to give it away but he is the best pet ever.

  • angry_sugar_mama

    chickens ROCK!

    sister has 5. great eggs, cool coop, totally fun.

    sister has 3 dogs: huge choc. lab (or something close), a bona fide pure bred bird hunting dog and a blood hound. none of the dogs touch the chickens.
    our very weird and eccentric australian shepherd doesn’t touch the chickens.

    armstrong is afraid to admit he would fall in love with them. that’s all.

    and they eat bugs.

  • Shannon_G

    Yes, they eat bugs, like ticks then you eat them and their eggs – YUMMO!

  • mandypants

    funny you should write about this. Our backyard is big enough for chickens and my husband went on ahead and build a coop and a run. We now have 3 chickens, 3 ducks, 20 quail eggs, 18 chicken eggs, and 7 pheasant eggs in an incubator. When they hatch, do you want a couple? They are cool silkie chickens.

  • lady m

    I took the leap to Dooce community member so I could say:
    YOU GOTS TO GETS CHICKENS!

  • catballouu

    You know, Heather, my husband and I have chickens and a coop/run and 2 dogs. And we live in SLC. If you really are interested and want to see how we do it, you are welcome to come by and take a look-see. We’re over by West High School. The girls free-range all day, we get eggs daily, they pretty much put themselves away at night and we have a really low bug population. Those are the highlights, but it’s not difficult. Every situation is going to be unique, esp with Coco (and maybe Chuck?). The hens are fascinating little creatures, fun to watch, and you will never go back to store-bought eggs (even organic store-bought) again after you have home-grown eggs.

    Bring Armstrong and the kids. We’ll send you home with some eggs to try, if you want.

    Also: http://www.backyardchickens.com
    IFA for feed and straw bedding (which makes great mulch/compost).

  • The Fairy Godmartyr

    Just make sure you stay away from hatchery catalogs! Talk about your chicken porn. My four year old took my catalog and hid it under the bed so he could look at it (which, if he’s going to have magazine full of breasts under the bed, at least it was chickens).

    If you want to live vicariously (or look for a way to convince Jon that it wouldn’t be that bad), I will probably be writing a lot about building a coop, brooding chicks, and figuring it all out over the next couple of months (www.FairyGodmartyr.com). I just ordered 13 chicks (four different varieties) that will hatch June 14th.

    Don’t give up…it took me almost a year of occasionally bringing up chickens before my husband finally agreed to it.

  • LynnLaw

    Jon did not pay me anything and I have never met him. But I do have chickens. On a very large ranch. And, I know that the excitable herding dogs cannot get enough of “virtual herding” from outside the coop, complete with bark, bark, bark. On our large ranch, we hear the excitable herding dog barking at our chickens from far off, as the house is far off from the chickens. Our closest neighbor is about a mile away. So it’s no big deal.

    Unfortunately, if you get chickens, you will end up having to make a decision between keeping them and Coco. Unless, of course you have a separate property at least a mile away. There’s no way she will be silent or calm about those chickens.

  • daly6823

    I spent some time taking care of chickens. They do give you eggs. That is the plus side. But you have to clean all of the chicken poop off them before you can eat them. When you reach your hand in the nest to get the eggs you have to try to keep from getting pecked. Also, they are not blessed with a shining intellect. I once went in to gather eggs and one had gotten her head stuck under the feeder and suffocated. Also they smell. Really bad. Also, the poop. Did I mention the poop? I know you are a pretty big fan of poop…. but POOP!!

  • meara

    Heather G.: “they go off the lay” when stressed or broody….I am SO using this when a headache strikes!!!

  • Sister Slick

    Yay! Chickens!

    You take the good with the bad. I’ve had chickens that will sit on your shoulder and … yes… they do kinda stink, and can be moody but aren’t most living things on the earth? Besides, fresh eggs DO taste better than store bought ones (once you’ve removed the poo from them). And chickens would be far less work than let’s say….a fainting goat!

    Sorry Armstrong.

  • Sern

    (Ignore the Sern, it should be Seren but I made a mistake when I signed up. So, yes.)

    GET HENS!! Seriously, they are great pets, their eggs are amazing and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are not patronising those horrible battery egg farms. We have hens and have never regretted it.

    They don’t need huge amounts of room; ours are in a run that is 9 feet by 22, which is actually considered to be very big. If you just got a couple of hens, you wouldn’t need masses of room. We have a hen that is completely free range, wanders wherever she pleases, called Inara, who likes to come into the kitchen and gossip while I’m doing the dishes. But then our cats are terrifed of hens and never chase her. Dogs tend to be less afraid.

    A conservative estimate reckons that there are around a quarter of a million hen owners in the UK. That’s folks keeping hens at home, not commercial farms. Amazing, eh? Why not get bantams? They’re small, cute and also lay good eggs.

    GET HENS!! Jon, honestly, they’re not as difficult to look after as you’d think.

  • kummet

    My husband and I regularly refer to HGTV as our porn. As in, we’ve got a serious addiction. And then you announced your partnership with HGTV. Can you imagine how excited I was? Now it’s like porn with superpowers.

  • Lipstick Jane

    I think having chickens would be awesome. Unfortunately we can’t in our neighborhood in Colorado. But check out this awesome chicken coop porn: http://www.heatherbullard.typepad.com/heather_bullard_collectio/2010/03/our-chicken-coop.html/

    Ciao.

  • debhayford

    Seriously think about this; they are a poopy mess. I raised poultry chickens one summer, the coop was gross and had to be cleaned frequently, when it came time for their demise, ugh, they pooped themselves shitless, and we had to dip them in this hot water to de-feather, and it was like poop soup and the smell… ahh memories…

    Anyway, my father owns chickens & guinea hens. The guinea hens are kind of cool, plus they eat ticks.

    Also, if your dogs arent used to them, they may want to eat them. I brought my dog over my fathers house when she was just a puppy and she immediately went for the kill – I had to tackle her and pull the poor bird out of her mouth.

  • sweet caroline

    YES! Definitely get chickens! I have always wanted chickens – I even looked into it when I used to live there (in the 9th and 9th area). You can have up to 5 chickens in the city, but no rooster (for obvious reasons). There was someone over on 1300S between 700E and 900E that had them, I could hear them when I walked to the park. Though they would have to be protected in the winter there, but you have a garage right?

    I AM getting chickens now that I live in San Diego. My cousin here has some that she raised and they are super tame – they even eat Doritos right out of your hand! One has imprinted on her dog and sleeps with him, actually ON him, at night – it’s hilarious. Tell your husband that once he has an omelet made from fresh eggs straight out of the backyard, then he’ll see why you want chickens. Plus, even though the poop is big and nasty, it’s amazing fertilizer! Oh, and they eat bugs! And will eat all your kitchen scraps! It’s a win-win, absolutely.

  • Kristi

    Ooo Ooo! This is right up my alley… I have 7 chickens in a coop my hubby built. I totally love them. Fresh eggs out the wazoo, and they are all hens, so no loud wake-up calls.
    I can’t let them out of their coop to roam free because I have a (full-size) Border Collie who would LOVE to eat them for a snack! So I pick grass to give them, along with cabbage leaves and old spinach leaves. It works great.

    Oh, and by the way, I tried that mini-pig-in-the-house thing. It did NOT WORK! She is now in her own pen outside. 😛

    So from me is a YAY!! *sticks tongue out at Jon*

  • Woon

    YES CHICKENS.

  • pekayzee

    I don’t know exactly how big your backyard is, but I would have to say,”Nay.” Have you ever cleaned out a chicken coop? It is like managing toxic waste, with a nitrogen content that is lethal! Not fun!

  • TravelSkite

    But then again, with hens you know The Day of Reckoning will come, and it can be traumatic: http://travelskite.blogspot.com/2010/01/rip-hoochie-mamma.html

  • venarain
  • vonfengler

    dude – so serious about chickens! my sister in law has two – Henrietta (actually has her own FB fan page – hello!!!) regular white chicken and then her new one is like a silky special kind of chicken named Meep Meep (the sound she makes) only check it out – turns out (LMAO)that Meep Meep is actually a rooster…whoops…complete and total buzz kill. I have to admit though she has fresh eggs everymorning – they actually have 3 dogs and have not had an issue (well except once when their rescued yorkie got into the coup) but i’m telling you chickens are seriously the new urban rage!

  • JessicaM

    Yay!

    Sometime the “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” side of me wins…

    My captcha: Not Salmon

  • carabella

    A big fat YES to getting backyard chickens. We have four chickens, a dog and a cat. They are WAY nicer than the cat and are a source of great comedy.

    There is some start up expense, but I imagine you might like the stylish little Eglu and pen. http://www.dwell.com/articles/eglu-by-omlet.html

    Just don’t expect Leta to help. Once the chicks grow out of the cute peep stage, they lose their luster w/ kids. I’m the chicken momma and that is just fine by me.

    They don’t require a lot of time, but you do need to maintain a clean environment. In addition to fresh eggs, the chicken poop would be great fertilizer for your tomato plant!!

    I’ll warn you that chicken keeping is addicting. There is a whole subculture of backyard chicken owners, but we’re pretty cool peeps. If you can talk John into it, check out Backyard Chickens website. It’s been a great resource to me.

  • mwv13

    YAY!! Definitely. Chickens are awesome. They’re easy to take care of, they’re fun for the whole family, they provide delicious eggs. What’s not to love? Just don’t get a rooster. Too noisy.

    You will have to keep the dogs away, though…

  • Amanda Brumfield

    Jon. They are just wittle baby chickens. They will follow you around the yard. They make pretty noises. They are soothing. Hold the wittle chickens. Love them. Love the chickens Jon.

  • solargarlic

    I’m hoping you’ll get those chickens you want…I mean, the baby chickens, they are so freaking cute!!! and fluffy!!! But the dog. Yeah, it will be a BIG problem with Coco. We have an 8 year-old mutt version of Coco, and the chickens have turned her into her normal crazy self on speed. Yesterday, a chick jumped out of their little tub…the dog sped over to see what was going on. I went into the gated chicken area and picked her up. I brought the chick over so the dog could say “hi”. The dog seriously tried to bite the chick’s head. Our dog is now pretty much quarantined from the chicks.

  • otherheather

    ok, first i love the irony of a mcdonald’s chicken nugget ad on the page whilst reading the comments. 🙂

    now, what if you could compromise? what if, say, the chickens could wear miniature clogs?

  • sgigs

    To further your livestock urges: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/28/090928fa_fact_orlean (sorry…someone already sent you this link)