We've kept chickens for 10 years or so and were phasing out. Our last two chickens, Belle and Winifred, took a chicken journey one Sunday (their day off) from which they never returned. I have often joked that Sonoma's destiny is intimately bound up with poultry — the chickens that had to be routed from the town square when a child was pecked, the car wash that refused to clean up its act and rid itself of noisy roosters, the ducks that were relocated so their dirty pond could be tidied up, the attack on the foie gras outlet downtown — and now, apparently, our destiny also involves fowl.
Only a week or so after our chickens disappeared, our son's friend Nick announced that he was getting a delivery of 30 chicks and asked if we'd like to sell eggs in the bookstore. We prepared a manger of straw and added some chicken books, and our latest effort to survive in this economy took off. Nick already had a few chickens — now known as Nix Chix — and our most highly sought-after item has become the still-warm eggs he delivers every day.
Of course there are not yet nearly enough to go around, since the babies are still teenagers and just beginning to lay. So we turned to our former employee Ross Cannard, linguist and now farmer for Greenstring Farms, who agreed to supply us with olive oil, vinegar, peaches, tomato sauce, and now fava beans, green garlic, and artichokes as well. Turns out another old friend has a business supplying beehives to vineyards and will be bringing us honey whenever he has some extra.
Our eggs have spawned an entirely new identity for Readers' Books. While we have every intention of continuing to supply our community with the best in books, we also see a place for us as a center for simple sustainable living. And we're having fun thinking about how a new and expanded identity can help sell more books, as well as keep our town healthy and aware.
More information on Nix Chix is available at nixchix.wordpress.com.
Lilla Weinberger, Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA (www.readersbooks.com)