‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hope is not actually a chicken, for the record

Two and a half years ago, I was at a friend's house when she came home with a box of baby chicks. They were kind of irresistible. I liked the idea of backyard chickens and told her they might be in our future, eventually. I just wasn't ready for all the chicken hoopla. Chicken hoopla being a building with a concrete floor and a fenced in run. Also an agriculture license, probably.

She convinced me there was no chicken hoopla. She told me you can have a simple coop in your backyard (at least where we live) and have a flock of one or two. She showed me coops you could build in an afternoon. She told me where to get baby chicks. She made me drink the punch.

I came home and announced my new found desire for chickens. Since I am the elitist prig of the family, Chris thought I was joking.

I asked for chickens for Mother's Day, 2007. I also asked for a small coop to put them in. Nothing fancy. I didn't want anyone to go to any trouble or expense. I wanted a coop we could move around the yard so the chickens could eat bugs and, er, fertilize.

We got three chickens. They lived in a small coop in the back yard until we lost one to a fox/coyote/neighborhood hoodlum in the middle of the day and moved them into the vegetable garden out front.

In 2009 we got more chickens. They are cute and fluffy and we cannot resist them. We became The People With Chickens.

The Upstairs Neighbor offered to build us a new coop, which he he did a few weeks ago. Our new coop is shingled. It has a sloped roof and trimmed windows and a bright red door. It has a fenced in yard that I could hang a hammock in. It has enough square footage and nesting boxes to house a dozen chickens. It is exactly what the chickens wanted.

It is also exactly what I wanted, despite the fact that it's exactly what I said I didn't want originally. Sometimes we don't want something because we're pretty sure we can actually have it.

Sometimes that something is chickens. Sometimes it's not.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
-Emily Dickinson


Laggin said...

I don't know that poem. The puppy I got for Mother's Day...and so needed...is named Hope. I love knowing about that poem. Thank you.

Janine@Shelf Life said...

I love the chickens.

I love the idea of your chickens. I don't know if I'd love to have chickens, but that doesn't really matter because in order for me to have chickens I'd have to ask for a country house first and that's kind of expensive chicken hoopla.

So chickens are most likely not in my future, but I love and enjoy your chickens and love that you have them so I don't have to.

MsPicketToYou said...

I always always always think of you as the Trout with Chickens

Cape Cod Rambling Rose said...

We had a fancy chicken coop with shingled roof and fenced-in yard when I was little. Twelve hens resided there. I used to feed them Ritz crackers through the holes in the fence... ever try a Ritz on a chicken? The two go well together. I think they nearly polished off an entire box of Ritz one afternoon (I'm not sure if my mother ever knew what I was doing).

Kristin @ Going Country said...

I don't generally find my chickens so inspiring, but maybe now that they're laying again, I'll recite this poem for them in their honor.

I don't think I'll get a very exciting reaction from them, though.

Jett said...

There is something about this that makes me feel vindicated and want to do a little cocky air-punching.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that you ended up with chickens when you were too good for such an endeavor.

If you get my drift.

B said...

We had chickens for awhile. Living in log cabin in a meadow it just seemed the right thing to do.

I presented my husband with the 2 chicks my son chose from his pre-school and we named them Feather Brain and Henrietta Puffball. Father and son built the coop together.

Feather Brain grew to be an evil son-of-a-bitch that terrorized the children and attacked our German Shepherd.

Henrietta was a gentle soul that would walk with you clucking like a grandmother telling you her favorite canning recipe.

I learned to store their feed in the basement after a black bear came and got stuck in their bin gorging himself.

Feather Brain was "voted off the island" and we got 10 more chicks - I quickly gave away all the roosters and painted "hens only" on the coop - and they were wonderful!

Until they were murdered one by one by a weasel we could never catch.

I hope to have more hens someday. But a better built coop comes first.

linlah said...

That's some fine style those chickens are living in.

TwoBusy said...

You'd be surprised by how often in my life that something doesn't turn out to be chickens.

Zip n Tizzy said...

I love chickens, but Brad says "No."
I love reading about your chickens and I want to move into their coop. It sounds lovely.

Anonymous said...

"She made me drink the punch."

So, you´re not a horse then...


Cheryl said...

Can't think of a better way to start the day than Emily Dickinson and chickens.

Living on the farm, it was inevitable that we'd end up with chickens. As it turns out a hen and a rooster. Henry and Henrietta. Henry was a bastid.

Being that it was a working farm, they were destined for the hatchet. My sister didn't know this would happen when she brought them home.

Upshot, they were even too tough for my father's palate and my sister, well, she became a vegetarian as soon as she flew the coop.

just making my way said...

That is a wonderful poem. And I'm so happy your chickens have a pretty new home!

Debbie said...

Excellent thought. I often think I want one thing to find out I wanted another. Or maybe didn't want the work that came with it!

raine said...

I burst into tears whilst reading Emily's poem. For real. It could be I'm overwhelmed and need a break, it could be hormones, or maybe it's because our neighbour across the street has chickens which have attracted rats.

(But I'm still happy you have a new chicken coop)

Greg said...

God, I love you and your chickens. And that poem.