Saturday, May 14, 2011

why: the project

Inquiring minds want to know: what possessed you to become a chicken owner? My pat answer is that it is all Dale's fault. My friend Dale lives in an apartment complex in Delray Beach that is pretty much nondescript except for the fact that his patio doors look out over a strip of grass that drops into a canal. And wading in and skimming above that canal is an ever-changing cast of spectacular water birds. So much so that on my first visit back to South Florida my house gift to him was a pair of bird books: the Audubon guide and an ur-Floridian-text entitled Florida's Fabulous Waterbirds: Their Stories.

A week ago Dale emailed me a photograph of the newest canal tenants:

Dale's caption for the photo was simply "noise" and he described them as being unprintably loud.

Thus began what turned out to be a literal goose chase, which involved me spending an inordinate amount of time perusing one of my favorite bird sites, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's bird guide, and him typing "exotic ducks and geese" into Google. Guess which one of us figured out faster that this is a pair of Egyptian Geese. Of course, my goose chase soon expanded into sites that offer a broad range of fowl for sale...which led naturally to me viewing multiple 12-second videos of baby chicks...which led naturally to searches on "chicken coops"...all of which led to me announcing to my dear long-suffering husband, somewhere around Sunday afternoon, that I had made up my mind to place an order.

Now, I will not burden the reader at this juncture with a full description of the homestead five chicks & a coop will soon call home, although I'm sure we'll get to that eventually and piecemeal. But suffice to say for now that ours is not a rural idyll. Ours is not really even a suburban sprawl. So it might not seem entirely intuitive that we would become chicken farmers. Although we clearly are not alone in the city. In fact, the lad and I went to an event promoting city chicken-raising last spring. There are many wonderful reasons (which I will doubtless explore in subsequent posts) to raise your own chickens and enjoy their eggs, even in the city. But back then, we decided against it.

This time I was ready for a new project. I'm a project person, happiest when I have an impossibly large, preferably novel task in front of me that will totally and completely occupy me for weeks or months. Or, as in the case of law school, years. For a long list of reasons I've been in the doldrums for a while now, becalmed between obsessions and fitful. But trawling the websites of poultry sellers I began to feel an old familiar stirring. Raising baby chicks, learning all about them, providing for their well-being, managing a (petite) flock of laying hens...all of that work had the feel of a project. The observant among you will have already noted that the blog-keeping only enhances the project-ness of the whole thing.

And once I had made up my mind (and especially once I had entered my credit card number and clicked the button), I felt happier, lighter, right-er than I had in weeks and weeks. Those birds were just what I needed. So there you have it. That's why.

Next post: how I chose these particular five chicks and their coop.

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