Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tour de Coops, Henside the Beltline

So last Saturday- which feels like about a month ago- I went to Raleigh with my friend Susie to check out the Parade of Combs. For the third year running, Urban Ministries has sponsored a tour of inner city hen houses and chicken coops to raise money for their programs.

We were surprised how many people have chickens in their suburban backyards and saw more than 20 different breeds along the way. We visited 8 different coops; they ranged from simple chicken wire and recycled wood enclosures, to a mobile house that got moved around a shady backyard, to what I termed the Taj Majal of coops. This last one was built to match the 50's bungalow of the home where two gentlemen were keeping their 4 hens.

My favorite quote of the day was from our first stop, a little sunshine yellow house with chicken art on the fence posts. A mid-forties mom who, when asked why she got the chickens said, "It was a mid-life thing, first I started the vegetable beds, then the compost, got a rain barrel and I was reading this book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and around about Chapter 5 they got chickens and that was it, I just had to have some."
She went on to say her husband was a CPA and thought it was a crazy idea but finally agreed. They screened in the area under their high back deck for the birds, I wonder if she'll think better of that location when the weather starts to heat up?
It was a fun time and we also learned a lot about keeping chickens including the spiritual benefits. One owner, the professor of a workshop called Chickens 101, said it's really about watching the birds, he claims that chickens are grounded like nothing else.
All the chickens had names and the owners were quite attached. It felt like the new "in thing" for yuppies to have a coop in their backyards. I was pretty inspired but not enough to run out and get a little flock, something that I imagine I would like to do. With vacations coming up- I don't want to tie myself down to a hen house that needs daily attention, and luckily, we get all the excellent fresh eggs we can really eat from the farm next door so their isn't major incentive to start my own flock, other than I think it would be a cool adventure. Eventually it will probably happen, but not quite yet.

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