I have a special book shelf down stairs holding titles like Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, Living with Chickens, The Joy of Keeping Chickens, and Chickens magazine.
For the past two years I've been interested in having backyard chickens. I followed the Providence fight to legalize backyard chickens in the city limits of Providence and cheered when the new regulations passed. And there was the reading. And more reading. And then I'd read something crazy and think 'it's too much of an undertaking.' And then I'd attend a local workshop about backyard chickens and I'd think 'we could totally do this.'
Chris and I bought and moved into a new house last month. We both figured this summer was not the summer for chickens. Next year. That was the plan.
Last month my friend Elizabeth invited me to tag along when she was chicken sitting for friend. We talked about what I would do next year.
At Elizabeth's b-day party, she told me the chickens I had visited needed a new home, as their owners were moving to Boston where chickens were illegal and their landlord would not allow illegal backyard chickens. And she said they're moving in May.
In about a week, Chris admitted he was on-board and we agreed that we were less tied down from moving into our first home than expected. Think we can handle chickens? Sure.
I spent last Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evening moving gravel and digging up a corner of the backyard in preparation.
Thursday night was the scheduled night for the Great Chicken Move of 2011 as well as a night of great generosity. Despite a delay that put us later into the night, and thus in the dark, and on-and-off rain showers, the entire event was complete in about 4 hours.
A friend of a friend lent a pick-up truck, two amazing friends and the chickens owners helped, and the owners donated everything (the coop, the run, the feeder, food, the waterer, medicine, a wire cage, pine shavings--everything we could possibly need), saving us quite a bit of money.
Four hours later, we had dug the run out of the dirt, disassembled the run from the coop, hauled the run and the coop up over our heads and over two narrow gates, made two trips across town, reassembled the whole thing in our back yard, and were all covered in sweat and dirt and chicken poo.
Excited and nervous that we'd do something wrong, but fully understanding that we had the support of all those involved, we had taken the plunge. We are now chicken owners. Friday morning we secured the run, and the two hens popped right out of the coop to say hello and have breakfast. I can tell already that they have completely different personalities. The previous owners named them "Coach" and "Spicy." We're not sure yet if we'll give them new names...
"Coach" is huge and fluffy, and has dark brown feathers with beautifully detailed stripes. She's a Cochin (her coloring is "partridge," so she's called a Partridge Cochin). She's also in a broody stage right now, which means she's trying to hatch an egg, even though there's no egg to hatch (so she's not laying). This weekend we're going to try to break her broodiness (more details to come).
"Spicy" is smaller, light brown and orange, friendly and curious about everything. She's an Araucana or an Americauna, has ear tuffs (little fluffy feathers sticking out of her cheeks like chops), and lays pale blue eggs.