Thursday, June 6, 2013

Further Chicken Adventures

Last year I reported on the beginning of my chicken adventure: I took a workshop (on behalf of the museum), I enrolled in a class (for myself but it turned out to benefit the museum), I started in on the research. Over the course of the summer and fall I surveyed some museum visitors about chickens, I read some books, and I got a lot of questions from my fellow interpreters at the museum. By the fall I was pretty sure that the museum was not ready for chickens, there was a definite lack of commitment from the full-time staff. But I’d done all this research and had fallen in love with them myself.

Also last year, Stephen got another dog. A puppy, but a massive one from the breed: Leonberger. I am not a dog person, but Stephen and Alysa are, and they both promised I would not have to look after it, train it, or care for it. But having two dogs in the house has affected me. It makes it tougher to go away on the weekends, tougher to stay out all day, tougher to go out with the dogs. So now that we have even more pet limitations at home, why not compound it?

Last fall I asked my dad to help me make a chicken tractor, which is basically a movable chicken coop. Not a historical one, but our house is not historical. Dad and I got started on the chicken tractor, along the way it became his winter weekend project, and I only managed to get up to help a couple of times.

I had looked into heritage chicken breeds for the museum and found a breeder that lives only two towns from me who supplies chickens to museums all over New England. His family was really nice, and very helpful when writing the museum report, so I made sure to mention them when I wrote it up. Since Stephen read my chicken report to help me proofread it, he knew exactly which breeder I favored, and for Christmas gave me a certificate for 6 chickens from Valentine Seed Company.

Fast forward to the beginning of May. The chicken tractor is done (and approved by my Dad’s chickens) some American Dominiques have been ordered from Valentine & Son, and the folks at the museum have decided to get some architectural plans drawn up as a next step for their chicken plans. A couple of weeks ago Alysa and I picked up 4 cute juvenile chickens, though one did not make it through the first night. Now we have three pretty birds that are growing big and fat and enjoying the chicken tractor in our back yard. We won’t get eggs until the fall, but we’ll enjoy their chicken antics in the meanwhile.
Photo By Stephen Shellenbean.

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