Friday, November 20, 2009

And Chickens Make Seven

Finally! We are getting chickens. We've been talking about it for so long (we've had the names picked out forever: more names from Bonanza show to go along with our dog, Hoss).

We're getting them for free through a random connection (friend-->step-mom-->fellow parent at a private school). Matt and I jumped at the chance. We thought there might be a nicer coop involved, but it sounds like we're basically getting chickens in a box (which, in the end, doesn't save us that much money, since chickens are pretty cheap). But oh well. At least it's a little fire under our behinds to follow-up on our chicken-procuring goal.

We'll be raising the chickens for eggs and for pure entertainment (you've got to get creative when you don't have a TV...). I spent the evening reading Chickens in Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide by Rick and Gail Luttmann as a crass course in chickenology. I learned a lot about how to trick hens into becoming foster moms for random chicks and cannibalism among the bunch. I'm still left with some essential logistical questions (like where to put the dirt that they need to roll around in to prevent mites), but the book was pretty engaging.

Apparently our chickens are about a month old. According to the book, they can spend another two weeks inside the house (hooray!). I want to get them used to us (and our dog).

But we will need a coop, like now. I love the one pieced together from IKEA parts (picture 1), but it seems a bit beyond our DIY prowess. I love this DIY coop, but I can't seem to swallow the idea of paying $30 for instructions. We also considered this one (picture 2). In the end, I think we're going to have to scrape together enough cash to buy an eglu. Honestly, I am smitten with the convenience. The easy-to-clean, slide-out surfaces might just make all the difference in our weekly chore routine.

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evi said...

Dear Sara,
I have been reading your 2000dollarwedding-blog for a couple of months now and am really impressed by your ideas and general attitude. But your idea of buying an eglo for your chickens (by the way: you got chickens! How wonderful, I also always wanted some for eggs - still living in an apartment makes me postpone this plan, though) is a little disturbing: I have the impression of you being an eco-friendly, cost-concious (spelling?) person - but this plastic-thing (I had a look at the homepage) makes me wonder... Why would you buy a brightly colored plastic-thing for over $1000? I also find the rabbit-eglo ridiculous. I understand you are afraid your DIY-skills might not suffice to the IKEA-stall but the plastic-things is a little far off in my opinion. Sure, the plastic things are convenient but then: is it ok/healthy/convenient for chickens to stand on a slotted floor (I hope you understand what I want to say, I am blanking on words)?
Just my thoughts... I'd love to read more about the chickens-project, good luck on them, they are beautiful!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi Evi! I really appreciate your criticism; I think it's important for us to ask critical questions of each other and engage in honest dialogue. I do try to be "cost-conscious" and "eco-friendly", and you're right that it seems contradictory to spend $665 on a plastic chicken coop ($495 + $170 for shipping). I did a lot of research before making my decision. The main criticisms I could find on the Eglu were related to its cost (it is so expensive!) and its material. I couldn't find anything that said the slats are bad for the chickens (I'm under the impression they use them to perch). I want to have chickens because I see them as another way to localize and be more connected to my food (and to help others in my neighborhood do the same thing--I'm definitely going to have to share all the eggs!). At the same time, I need to balance my desire to live a more eco-friendly life with my reality. I dedicate about 12 hours a day to my job as a teacher, and I still need time to exercise, cook, relax, be a good friend and partner, update my blogs, and read. The Eglu will help me fit chickens into my life. Because it's plastic, it will be easy to clean once a week. Over time, the environmental benefits of producing backyard eggs for myself and my neighbors will hopefully outweigh the negative impact of its initial production. In terms of cost, I am specifically taking on an extra consulting job to help cover the cost. The decision definitely involved compromises of my values in the short-term, but over time, I am hopeful that the decision will prove to be in alignment. I hope that makes sense!

evi said...

Wow, that was an impressive reply! Thank you so much for getting back to me, Sara! I totally understand your thoughts and given your arguments, the eglo might be a good solution. I think another reason I was irritated by it are the bright colors (hey - the ladder leading up to the box is green? ;->), the whole thing seemed more like a "kid wants a bunny for easter, we get the brigthly colored expensive cage for it as well and after a while the animal gets boring to the kid"-thing. I had never the impression of you as being so superficial and that I did not get... ;-)
You are absolutely right about the positive effects your chickens (did I mention that I find them really pretty? ;-> I am sure you have named them! ;->) onto you and the environment and those will by far outweigh the negativity of the plastic used for their stable.
I guess after reading your blog I had a wrong impression and maybe compared our lives too much - I thought you have the time for DIY-projects during weekends and therefore could build the stable yourself. I also didn't get "I don't want to pay $30 for instructions" but you are willing to pay much more for the plastic-stable.
I have no idea know how much you work, exercise, clean, socialise etc and therefore shouldn't have critizised (spelling? sorry, I am not a native-speaker as you might have guessed...) you, that was bad of me. I am really sorry for that.

I wish you lots of fun with your chickens and the eglo (it DOES look cool and fun after all and perfectly fits into our "we are 30 but still want to have fun and want to have nice-looking-things"-world. I was just irritated by the material and price for they don't reflect your usual thoughts on things.) and am looking forward to reading more about them - and about wedding-planning of course, I am in the middle of it and am enjoying your blog a lot! ;-)

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