Thursday, May 6, 2010

chook chooks

In my last post, I mentioned that I'm still struggling with some decisions that feel like they need to be made. One of those decisions is whether or not to keep my chickens.

I know it seems weird to a lot of people that I even have chickens. I'm vegan, I don't eat eggs. What does a vegan want with chickens?

Well, ethically, I wouldn't feel bad about eating my chickens' eggs. Foxy, Wrench, and June are well treated, happy backyard companion chickens. They are older hens who don't lay many eggs, and I'm glad they're in my backyard instead of somebody's soup pot. I just don't happen to like eggs.

I do like chickens. I've had a soft spot for them since I was involved in a battery hen rescue right after I graduated from college and had the privilege of visiting United Poultry Concerns, a chicken sanctuary on the East Coast. They're funny and cute. I like nearly all animals, someday I'm going to end up with my own petting zoo of rescued cats, dogs, goats, bunnies, chickens, cockatiels, and who knows what else if I'm not careful!

I also like gardening, and the chickens like eating bugs in the garden and adding nitrogen to my compost pile. :) It's a win-win.

And I'll admit, since I bought my own house, I've gotten kind of caught up in the idea of homesteading. I've been trying to grown some of my own food, replace ornamental plants with edibles, and yeah, raise my own chickens.

The trouble is that I like my chickens so much that I end up feeling guilty a lot. Guilty that I can't let them out more. Guilty when their covered run leaks in the winter, and I'm not handy enough to do more than throw a tarp over it to keep them dry. Guilty that they don't have more space. Guilty that I get mad at them when they eat all the strawberries and lettuce. :)

I also have limited resources, and if I have to choose between traveling (or some other luxury) and paying for chicken food...should I re-home the chickens?

Of course, my obvious solution to this dilemma was to get another chicken. Wait, what? Yep. Meet Amelia Snaggletooth.

Since I've been feeling conflicted, I've been stalking the PDX Backyard Chicken Yahoo Group, lurking on Backyard Chicken Forums for tips, and checking Craigslist compulsively for a cheap, big, cute coop for the girls. When I saw a posting for a chicken who nobody wanted because she has a genetic defect that made her beak crooked and she doesn't lay many eggs, how could I resist?

She's been at my house for about 24 hours now. Foxy doesn't mind her, Wrench is curious, and June hates her guts. Amelia's already flown the coop (literally), and I had to track her down in my neighbor's backyard when I got home from work today(Hi neighbor! Have you seen a small brown chicken who looks like she lost a boxing match?). A bigger covered run or a chicken tractor are definitely in my future. The Bus is on chicken patrol. And I think the chickens are here to stay.

More chicken pictures.

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