The first time around he said, Let’s just wing it.   This was very uncharacteristic of him, to go into something so unprepared, and I guess he learned his lesson well.  This time he’s got a set up that deserves a spread in Better Homes & Coops:  a 370 sq. ft man-sized shaded pen and a 96 sq. foot structure with gutters, windows, and storage cupboards, all on skids in case he wants to move it in the future (I can’t help but remind him we’ve had apartments that size) .  Indoors the coop looks like Romper Room for birds with tree branches and beams as bridges and a “quiet corner” for naps; underneath it all there’s a thick carpet of pine shavings.

I appreciate handy hubby’s new hobby, which has a hope of paying for itself in about 15 years, if the cost of chickens and eggs goes up about ten fold.  Yes, of course, I exaggerate, slightly, but I think it well worth that cost and upwards if the birds and eggs are as fabulous as others I’ve tasted home grown.  As an added bonus they will keep the area free of insects of all kinds and fertilize in tandem, along with the healthy dose of entertainment while we’re watching them.  It was weird for me to think of animals “grown”, like vegetables, rather than “raised”, but that’s the term used on the feed bags and in the books.  We are growing 35 of them, or thereabouts, it’s impossible to get an accurate count without tagging them in some fashion.  Only a handful will be staying around long enough to lay, and I guess that’s a more accurate time to count them anyway–who knows how many will actually live to make it to the freezer.

Chickens are the hottest topic on the homesteading wire, whether that’s in the city or the country.  There are an impressive number of books out and already four existing magazines on the topic and a new one just started last month.  As with nearly every other topic the jungle of information is intimidating, so if you don’t have a real drive to sift through it all, it’s bound to fall to the bottom of the list.  Handy hubby, however, has been talking about chickens since I met him.  Of course, talking about chickens, and actually doing them, well, he may have underestimated the first time what it would take, but now, he’s a man on a mission, failure is not an option.

The birds have already taught me something significant about human nature, which I swear I never knew before.  I’m not a sports fan and have never liked team sports, playing or observing.  But when I come across a cricket or beetle in the garden and cringe with my gloved hands all the way to the coop to feed it to them this is one of the funniest spectacles I’ve seen in ages.  This natural behavior is where man-made sports comes from, no doubt.  Only it’s hilarious!  The way the one with the treasure zips all around, through and over and past all the others, hopping up and down, the way they all chase him around the pen, sometimes he fumbles or another steals, it’s comical mayhem and it’s leagues better than any sporting event or reality show I’ve ever seen.

Handy hubby invariably has two project outcomes, either over-engineered or total bust from onset.  The cabin that sits nearly finished is an example of the former, the recent cold frame an example of the latter, there’s an entire list of them, I’m happy to report, on both ends.

So actually the chickens have already taught me two things about human nature.  The other one being, there’s certain times in life when a woman has to learn to step aside. In our defense, men have had a hard time learning that one too.  Whether it’s for women or chickens or money or glory, there is no pursuit in life more single-minded than a man on a mission, in those moments he is behaving as instinctively as the chick with his beetle.

Older and wiser the second time around, we hope

Older and wiser the second time around, we hope

Pampered chickens taste better?

Pampered chickens taste better?