Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Like part of the family

Day three, and it's already starting to seem downright normal to have chickens living in a box in the bathroom.

They're pretty quiet. They walk around the box, pecking at the pine shavings, at each other's backs or beaks and occasionally scratching. They are especially cute when they drink water, because they have to tip their little heads up so the water goes down their throats.

A block away, there are some neighbors -- people I don't know -- with chickens. I was walking home from the bus this afternoon and their chickens were walking around the front yard, unpenned, nobody in sight, just scratching away at the dirt. I was impressed with how LARGE they were. They're not small, chickens.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The latest thing

Day 1: In which the Zuhl-Long family acquires three chickens.

Greg called from work, ready to go home for the day. “Hey, how about we go out and buy some chickens this afternoon?”

Not as in, “Let’s buy a chicken and roast it for dinner tonight,” but rather, “Let’s buy some baby chicks and raise them for the eggs.”

We’d been thinking about this step for quite a while, and suddenly everything just seemed to come together. I had a little while before Elliott needed to go to piano, so we jumped in the car and headed over to Issaquah’s Grange Co-op store, where, over the phone, a somewhat harried but enthusiastic woman had rattled off the names of a half-dozen different varieties of chickens that they had in stock and more on the way.

The place was a little crazy – people were running in and out getting supplies for horses and other animals. A guy with a shaved head and a large tattoo behind his ear – indeed, he looked more like he should be working at a tattoo parlor than a grange – helped us pick out a couple of likely-looking birds: a brown leghorn, a bantie and an Americana, which will lay blue-green eggs. (We hope they’re all females – there’s no guarantee. You can’t have a rooster in the city. “What if one of them turns out to be a rooster?” I asked. The guy shrugged. “Let it go?”)

The kids were extremely excited about having chickens. Elliott, done with piano, dashed home to see them. He texted Lauren in the car – she was still at school, taking after-school driving lessons – and she and her friend Kristen immediately decided Kristen should come over as well. Nothing brings kids into your house like a couple of baby animals in a box of pine shavings.

They’re going to live in the bathroom for now, just because it’s tiled and large and warm. We have a heat lamp for them. In about a month, they will get to live outside, in the chicken coop that I have not yet made. The plans are in my head.