I’ve wanted backyard chickens for years, even before I ever rescued one from a busy street in our neighborhood. Pearl was a scrappy, underweight escapee from some someone else’s suburban backyard, and having never been around a live chicken, she unnerved me a little with her saucy, “you are not the boss of me” attitude. (But to my surprise, once she settled in, she was actually very affectionate.) Unfortunately, it was that attitude that drove her to tease my dogs mercilessly, and things ended tragically. Since then I’ve been leery of following through on getting a flock.
We currently have four dogs and two cats—all rescues—and even if I could figure out a way to keep chickens safe from them, our household always seems to be teetering on the brink of animal chaos. So whenever I start getting the urge to build a coop and populate it, I make myself pause and think about how much work there is in taking care of the animals we already have in our family.
Our neighbors across the street own a flock of three chickens, and though they are always telling me how little care they need, here is what I have observed from their birds:
• Chickens make noise. Not a lot, but enough that if it was added to the general cacophony in our backyard, neighbors might start to get a little cranky, no matter how many fresh eggs we supplied them.
• Chickens, erm, poop. A lot.
• Someone needs to take care of the birds when the chicken wranglers go on trips. As I understand it, chickens eat food and drink water every single day.
None of these things are insurmountable, mind you. It is just too much at this juncture in my life.
Nevertheless, the dream persists. So imagine my delight when Gardener’s Supply sent me these last December, shown here guarding the lettuce seedlings in the hoop house:
Quiet. Poopless. Can go for weeks without food and water.
Now if they only would lay a few fresh eggs.