We have a new approach to being green around here. Because nothing says “pet chickens” like spring. And a buzz-kill economy.
We’d been talking about setting up an urban coop since long before half the people we know were losing their jobs or worried about it. We were going to draw up elaborate blueprints for our chicken kingdom, to be shared with our split-lot, backyard neighbor and supported by Seattle’s very cool urban chicken ordinance. But after consulting with our grange committee (ok – 2 friends of ours who set up coop behind their Seattle house) we decided to put a rush on it so we could start getting eggs before summer was over. Added to the elaborate vegetable garden that is creeping its way into every square foot on the property, the eggs could conceivably cut our grocery bill and help us reduce our footprint in so many more small, but significant, ways.
In our haste to populate the fowl kingdom in time for spring, the task of finding baby chickens landed with me, despite the fact that Green Thumb is the one with ranch experience and our next-door friend read the Urban Chicken Farmer’s Handbook, or something like that, cover to cover. I stumbled for my terminology as I called around to feed stores asking whether they had chicks or pullets and what varieties. But the classic city-girl slip-up (and there always is one, folks) was when the girls, our neighbor and I arrived at the Chicken Guy’s garage and I asked him if he had any Long Island Reds. For those who are as in the dark as I was, the correct name for the very common chicken breed is Rhode Island Red. Apparently I was asking for a chicken-flavored cocktail. Veganism, anyone?
The chickens (all but one, poor little guy – – yes Virginia, there is a chicken heaven) made it, and are now ensconced in a fabulous cedar mansion in our tiny backyard, waiting for us to hurry up and build them a full run and install their tennis courts. We’re told that if they stay happy, we could end up with around 6-7 eggs a day. The girls are thrilled, the dog is excited and the cat suspicious, and I am indeed hoping this venture is fruitful. Because all squawking aside, homegrown food, especially on a micro-scale, is such a great way to begin pecking away at some of our large-scale problems, from climate change to commercial food-safety concerns to economic stability for working-class families.
Ok, off my soapbox. It’s been a long day and I’ve gotta go wrangle me a Long Island Red.