Chickens

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I’ve been reading about and been fascinated by the idea of backyard chickens for a while now. From Martha Stewart to MaryJane’s farm, to Susan Orlean’s great article in The New Yorker, “…they have undergone an image rehabilitation so astonishing that it should be studied by marketing consultant.”

Our experience in the Earthship made me a little more eager to get some chickens of our own. Last summer, Anchorage revised the ordinance and so now backyard chickens are allowed on smaller pieces of property; our 8,000 square foot yard can legally be home to four chickens.

The ladies of the Phoenix Earthship

Lucky ladies! They get their own Earthship.

Chicks were out of the question for us because our one year-old kitten is a great mouser and I believe those skills would naturally carry over into his dealings with the chicks. I ordered pullets, “teenage” chickens, but in the meantime posted an ISO on Craigslist for hens that are young but already laying. It turned out our new birds were living just over a mile away.

With my ad answered I then had about 2 days to get a coop and run ready for the chickens. I had already decided on trying to find an old playhouse (which I found for $40 through Craigslist) and renovating it. The family with the playhouse were kind enough to drop it off for me and, in the rain and even a little sleet, I screwed on hardware cloth, wood, and some other reinforcements. I’ll post more about the princess coop pictures another time, but here are a few pictures of it in progress.

Roofless coop…

They travel around the yard together. Here, they were scared of the cat so they elevated themselves and stuck together against the danger.

The girls spend most of their time in the compost pile and on the old leaves under the birch and spruce trees in the backyard. There are a lot of bugs to eat and it provides excellent cover in defense against bald eagles.

The chickens are happy, and spend most of their time free-ranging in the backyard. I am exhausted still from the weekend so I’ll try to revise this post in the next couple of days. We’ve gotten three eggs each day and they are delicious.

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One thought on “Chickens

  1. We have three chickens (you can see them on thesnailofhappiness post) and they are excellent – they fertilize, turn over the soil and produce eggs too! Our three seem to scare the cats away but they don’t have to contend with bald eagles! The use of the old playhouse is sheer genius!
    Out of interest, do you know why Anchorage didn’t used to allow householders to keep chickens on small properties? Here in the UK, if you have a garden you can have them – and I think it is becoming more fashionable in this time of European austerity!

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