This city hen just finished up a 90-minute workshop session at Gamble Creek Farm in Parrish, FL. (Community vegetable swaps, anyone?) Before the workshop, several friends asked me, “How can you talk about chickens for an hour and a half?” To that, I replied, “How much more time can I get?”
For me, talking about backyard chicken keeping is easy. I love them so, and wish more folks understood the ease and the rewards of having them. And lest any of you doubters think I’ve got it easy, I work at home, I probably don’t have a life–let me set the record straight: I have plenty going on in my life. I simply choose to make chickens part of it. I could be at the beach right now, or motorcycling with friends, or riding a four-hooved equine beast, or even grabbing a few much-needed minutes of shuteye before hitting the town with my gal pals tonight. But I choose instead to find a great spot in the shade and peck away at my iPad about hens before I hit the pottery wheel and head back into the house for a much-needed vacuum session.
The truth of it is, backyard chickens make me enjoy being outside even more than I used to. There’s a certain amount of indescribable pleasure in spending time outside–even on a hot Florida day–when you have such an amused, interested, involved flock of hens observing (and often participating in) your every move. Pulling weeds? They help. Enjoying a cold beer in a shady umbrella shadow? They’ll join you. Cleaning out the chicken run or coop? They get in on it–even if you prefer they don’t. For instance, right now, my girls could be exploring every corner of our spacious quarter-acre yard. But nope, they’re standing comfortably just eight inches from the base of my chair. (See Mabel, below–as I type, here she is.)
This is one of the reasons that the poultry industry makes me so incredibly sad. These chicks have got some really incredible personalities. And they obviously seek out human companionship as much as possible. To think of them in stacked metal cages in a falsely-lit, non-ventilated factory with about six inches of room between their feathers and a wall, churning out egg after egg until they’re no longer “a useful generator of eggs” for Commercial Egg Farmer Dick and must be “culled,”–well, that’s downright disgusting. I hope more folks will take advantage of the opportunity to care for chickens in the safety and comfort of their backyards, and give these little egg generators the life they deserve.
What’s holding you back? Go for it!
For those of you just starting out in the backyard chicken-keeping world, and who were at today’s workshop, I thought I’d share some better pictures of my coop and run.