Neighbourhood centres are a bit fab. Ours is set in a little community hub complex, nearby a preschool, long day care centre, community health centre, youth centre and mental health outreach. What a great place! I went there last year to attend a weekend organic gardening course, got chatting to another lady, we discovered the unused coop and the plans began. We are both in positions where keeping chickens at home isn't possible right now, so taking out a lease of the EcoGarden's chicken coop presented an ideal solution.
The rainy Friday arrived for me to collect our 12-week-old pullets from the breeder, who does a regular off-the-back-of-the-truck (literally) order and pickup through a produce store a little way from home. I stood in the fat plopping rain, waiting in line with my rapidly-soaking cardboard box. I laughed nervously as the farmer put my twelve ordered ladies in the box, couldn't help but think how undignified it was to hold them by the feet! The reality of caring for real, actual livestock struck me when I picked up my heavy, warm, life-filled box, only to smear chicken shit all over the front of my shirt.
Three weeks on, the girls are growing, enjoying a range of kitchen scraps and becoming used to small children in gumboots. They are getting named as time goes on, the white one with caramel is called Butterscotch, one of the black ones has been called Shadow Hen, I picked the greyish one as Ethel, one of the red ones is Rosie, and my little guy has named the fattest black hen Larry.
We visit daily to check their food, water and clean what needs cleaning. The kids are so very enamoured with the whole thing. We are all learning so much. I am already deeply affected by seeing the range of activities undertaken by the girls throughout the day. Connecting my new understanding and respect for chooks with choices I make when shopping for eggs (only for a little while longer!) and chicken meat is quite confronting. But so very worthwhile.
Rosie wonders...'Who IS this awkward bird?'