A mom at my daughter’s school had offered to pass on a hard to find container from the 1st grade supplies list so I jumped at that opportunity! Little did I know that by doing so I was also going to be getting a little intro to backyard chickens!
When I responded to the email for the offer of the container she said she could either bring the container to registration day or I could stop by her home and say hello to her chickens. Uh, hello! I knew Stella wouldn’t want me to pass up a chicken opportunity like that so I arranged to meet Kim at her home.
Now, I’ve had the idea of getting chickens in the back of my mind for a while, Stella and I have talked about it and of course she’s all for the idea. But despite romantic notions I’m still on the fence about it. It kinda seems appealing, kinda not so appealing. It seems like a lot of responsibility since there’s the whole working full-time, have a kid, a dog and 2 cats thing going on already in my life with the newly added home remodeling thing on top of that, I’m not feeling like I’m in a big rush to run out and buy some little chickadees. However, I have to say after talking with Kim and seeing her set up it really seemed like the best idea EVER!
First, let’s talk about the chicken coop. She built it from scrap materials from the building that was being rehabbed next door to her. She had to buy the chicken wire (and maybe the screws, unless she’s like me and has boxes of them laying around) and the rest was creative re-use. That’s pretty awesome. Of course, if you’re not handy there’s always Williams-Sonoma for a pricey backup. Well, they do have a lovely page dedicated to chickens, don’t they?
But really, chickens aren’t as expensive as I thought they were. Kim bought her chickens from Belmont Feed and Seed and apparently the cost was extremely minimal…like, Stella could afford it herself (but don’t tell her that!). Of course they lay eggs and if you eventually decide that you want to cook your chicken there are plenty of butchers in the Chicago area that will do the job for you for less than the cost of buying a boneless/skinless chicken breast at Whole Foods.
Then there’s the sustainability of it all. She has a 50 pound bag of feed but she also gives the chickens food scraps and lets them roam a bit in her small backyard. The flooring in their coop is all compostable and they scratch and turn it over and basically it’s a very sustainable composting machine that Kim then uses on her garden. I mean, to me that was a real eye opener that I didn’t know about. That chickens are like living composters, I thought that was pretty cool.
I left thinking, “Wow, I had no idea that owning chickens was so inexpensive and sustainable!” I’m still not ready to dive into it but maybe next summer it’s something I’ll give a bit more thought to.Tags: backyard chickens, sustainable backyard