I said I was not going to do it any time soon when talking to friends about my Self Sufficiency project, but it happened anyway. Chickens. Yes, chickens. Painfully dumb, yet adorably entertaining chickens. But, they couldn’t be just any urban chickens, oh no. Being the dazzling urbanite farmers we are, we had to get special chickens (sigh).
While looking at the rabbits, my mother turned to me and said, “Well, I did almost name you Noah. Speaking of Noah, how about chickens for your mother.” Who could resist the simple whims of their mother?
As it turned out, she had a particular chicken in mind. Every Saturday morning she hits one of the local farmer’s markets where a farmer brings green-shelled eggs – a big hit with the ladies that have everything. She told me she wanted these chickens.
Cocktail party trivia for you. The egg shells are not actually green. The shell is blue with a brown coating on the exterior giving it a green appearance. These chickens produce eggs in a color range from a medium sky blue to pinkish brown. I am sure some breeders would argue the finer points of what the egg color says about the validity of the chicken’s lineage and purity, but now you know as much as I cared to know.
After some online searches I came to understand that there are two breeds; the Araucana and the Ameraucana. There is also a third chicken producing these eggs, but they are of mixed breeding (mongrels) and they are referred to as Easter Egg Chickens. There is some disagreement about this classification that’s not worth getting into.
Since she already had a familiar relationship with the farmer from many months of buying his eggs, and the fact that I will only wake on Saturdays before 9am when bribed by my girlfriend, she was left to procure the chickens. I would do the rest. To forgo any uneasiness or reluctance the farmer might have about the transaction, I told her just to tell him her son was a nutty survivalist getting into urban farming. He would probably chuckle, nod in understanding, and agree to sell her some pullets (young hens).
My mother’s request was met with the expected reaction and the farmer agreed to sell her four pullets, but she had to take them the following Saturday, and the meeting had to be clandestine. Apparently the farmer’s market takes issue with actual chickens being anywhere near the market, but milking goats are ok – who knows.
The following Saturday, with mission impossible music playing in the background – original of course, as the two parties involved were over 65 – the deal went down and my mother had the “package”. At 9:01 my phone rang. My mother was in my driveway excitedly wanting to show me the chickens, “Yep, those are chickens mom.” Still groggy and coffee in hand, I took delivery and began work on a chicken coup.
The now city chickens were let out of the crate during the days to muck about and watch as I built their fort. Each night, three chickens got back in the crate ready to be put to bed, while the fourth roosted in some vines overhead.
Three days later the chickens had a lovely new 5′ x 10′ coup near the rabbits. I had a fantastic new farmers tan, skinned knees, and a few new pneumatic tools. I must remember to pickup some saw horses for the next project.
And now, we have city chickens on the urban farm.
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens
- Ameraucana History
- Araucana Club Of America
- Ameraucana – Backyard Poultry
- Keeping Chickens in Houston, TX