It’s hard to say which came first, my desire for chickens or my desire to have freshly laid eggs. Honestly, I don’t know how the inspiration hatched in my mind, but whatever the root cause, I am so happy to have backyard chickens of my own.
A few weeks after relocating to the desert, we built a coop out of wood scraps. Our coop looks like a real barn with gables and barn doors. The neat features of our coop (thank you, engineer sweetheart!) are: a convertible roof for the summer time, a side door to the nesting box and a windowed side for light in the winter. We purchased Poppy and Marigold (my chosen monikers for our flock of two) as teenagers from a family outside of town and transported them home. For the first few days, they seemed a bit freaked out, but they quickly adapted to life at our homestead. Almost two years later and we still check on them constantly and spoil them rotten with the remnants of our meals. Their favorite treats are probably brussels sprouts bits and potato skins. Oh, and you can’t forget the pounds of watermelon rind they took down the first summer. They are our sole entertainment and we like to speculate on the inner workings of their lives. The most curious thing is how attached they are to one another; there is no pecking order, no discontent and a lot of co-dependence. For such simple creatures, they sure do boost our lives.
And now onto the eggs! Not only are our chickens companionable, but also they provide us with delicious eggs (almost) daily. Walking out the back door to gather food is a great feeling. And, it’s very good to know that the eggs we are ingesting are free of chemicals and antibiotics, and full of flavor and nutrition. I can barely eat eggs anymore that are not from local chickens — there is no flavor, and frankly, they gross me out. Our eggs are so robust and bright, they put commercial eggs to shame. They abound with flavor and nutrition. And, not to sound too corny, but I feel connected with my food knowing that it was a gift from our birds.
It’s a symbiotic relationship: leftover scraps from our veggies turn into delicious eggs. I hope that I can have chickens forever, I really do. It is a very straightforward relationship and I enjoy it immensely. It is a simple relationship, less than a pet but more than a plant in a garden, but a relationship nonetheless.