I have been meaning to post for more than a month now about the anniversary gift our friend Aideen gave us. (We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary at the end of April.) Since Christmas, Aideen has been going on and on about how she was going to get us chickens as an anniversary gift. I was not amused. (See also: March 7th post.) I really don’t want to own chickens, for all the reasons listed in that rant. But Aideen was insistent – we were getting chickens for our anniversary! We would love it! There is no stopping Aideen once she gets an idea in her head. You just have to roll with it.
I made contingency plans – I would post them on Freecycle and claim that the cats next door ate them; I would try giving them to people I already knew had chickens; I would drive them to Drumlin Farm and leave them in a box with a note: “Orphans. Please adopt or eat.” I was prepared. I was ready.
Aideen showed up with a 7-pound Perdue oven-stuffer roaster and a dozen eggs. She is endlessly pleased with herself that she had me riled up for months over this. I have never laughed harder after opening a gift. Or been more relieved. Because really, when it comes to Aideen, you can never be certain.
Last week J met a really interesting guy who sold him another rototiller. (More on that later. It was a very smart purchase, even if my garage does now look like a John Deere accessories dealership.) Somehow the conversation turned to chickens, a topic that gets kicked around my house occasionally. This guy had been doing a lot of research on chickens and told J a lot of what he’d learned. Apparently his family had decided on Dominique chickens because they are less agressive than other breeds, produce more eggs, etc. What really intrigued J, however, is the fact that chickens are known for their voracious consumption of bugs, and deer ticks in particular. I hate deer ticks. I may or may not have chronic Lyme disease, but I definitely have a deep hatred for deer ticks and their propensity to carry Lyme. I’m just not sure I hate the ticks enough to agree to get chickens.
I like the idea of chickens in theory, but the practical application of them could be a nightmare. One, we have two free-range cats that live next door (Max and Lily) who spend a lot of time in our yard. Two, you have to clean up after chickens, and I’m just not sure I want to get involved in that. Three, who will tend to the chickens if we’re away? Somehow I cannot see my mother doing this. And we have a house sitter that we love, but she has a somewhat unreliable schedule and often isn’t there every night. You are supposed to collect eggs twice a day, never mind make sure the chickens have food and water. Fourth, I don’t see myself being enthusiastic about going out to the coop to collect those eggs and manage the chickens twice a day in the dead of winter, or especially not when there’s a snowstorm, as there was every three days for about two months this winter. Finally, hens get old and must be dispatched. Would we really feel comfortable butchering and eating something that we had raised?
On Saturday my equally-agressive-gardener cousin J dropped by and announced she wanted to get chickens. I think our fresh egg problem has just been solved. I can drive two towns over and pick up eggs every few weeks, and she can deal with the twice-a-day egg collection, mess and neighborhood menaces. She can handle anything, she has three children.