Monday, May 25, 2009

My Three Daughters: A Proud Welcome

I have just become the proud keeper of three baby chickens. This fact is astonishing to me, and I can’t exactly remember how or why I made the decision to raise pet hens.

There is clearly a groundswell to reclaim a healthier connection to our food and to buck the industrialization of our food supply—through shopping at farmers’ markets, joining a CSA, growing a vegetable garden, and finding myriad other ways to eat locally. But I am admittedly more of a toe-dipper in this movement than an activist, and it doesn’t begin to explain to me my motivation for raising chickens. Certainly there are plenty of fresh, local eggs here in the Berkshires that I can buy at a fraction of the cost of keeping my own tiny flock, especially since I bought the designerly Eglu instead of building my own coop.

Part of the motivation may be that I have a seven-year-old son, and I think this experience will be a gift for him. Partly, I think the experience will be a gift for me. Having lived until two years ago in cities, I don’t believe I’ve ever known anyone who keeps chickens. It’s possible I’ve never even touched a chicken until this week. What an adventure it will be to try something that is, for me, so different and unexpected!

Above all, though, I love to make things. I usually exercise this passion through work, where I design books, and through hobbies like sewing. Maybe I’m hoping that raising chickens will be something like a craft, with the chickens as lively and amusing “materials” and the eggs as the tasty and lovely end product.

I think the plan crystallized when I read Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich, in which she narrates her own forays into homesteading skills like raising chickens, keeping bees, sewing, preserving, and more. According to Jenna, keeping three hens is no more work than having a single housecat. Click. Sign me up!

With the help of my colleague Maryellen Mahoney, who is a veteran at raising chickens, I chose a distinct breed for each chick.

This classic blonde chick is Honey. She is a Buff Orpington, a breed known for being very sociable and great as pets.

Tilda is a redhead—a Rhode Island Red, that is—a breed prized for prolific egg-laying.

This brunette beauty with chipmunk markings is an Araucana named Amelia. Araucanas are colloquially known as Easter Eggers since the shells of the eggs they lay are light blue. Chicken experts, please don't send me concerned comments: this water dish was replaced with a proper water supply within hours. As you can see, chickens have no compunction about soiling their water, their food, or just about anything else.

Honey, Tilda, and Amelia. Once you name them, they’re part of the family. I love them already.

Alethea Morrison, Storey Creative Director

1 comment:

Jenna Woginrich said...

this is going to be a hoot