We all have our own personal telltale signs of spring. For some, it's really specific. Something slightly weird but still uniquely their own — like the smell of Pledge simonizing the house or some hideous pastel-dyed, coffee-inspired foodstuff back on the board at Starbucks. Whatever it is, we have them. They are the wonky (but endearing) annual reminders that things are a-changing. For me, the reigning sign of spring has become sharing my bathroom with a box of chickens. No joke.
Spring is when hatcheries ship chicks to us small farmers. For the past few years, my Aprils and Mays have included a brooder box in my bathroom where said day-old birds reside. For about seven weeks, those little birds stay indoors with me while they grow up into ugly pre-teen poultry. They're stationed in the loo because it's always the one room in the house that has spare electrical outlets for heat lamps and a door that separates it from the rest of the house. (When you share your place with Siberian huskies, you learn about chicken security the hard way...) So, around the same time other people are seeing robins hop around the yard, or bulbs poking out of the ground — I am blowdrying my hair in the company of miniature chirping Japanese poultry. Yup, spring has sprung.
I have forgotten what it's like to live without chickens. Somehow those tiny dinosaurs have clawed their way into my psyche so deep, the idea of not having a flock in my backyard seems ridiculous. Sheer lunacy. Which you wouldn't have guessed had you sat next to me in Typography 101 a few years ago when I was working towards a degree in graphic design. Chickens weren't exactly in the plan back then, but it's an enjoyable addiction, poultry. They are less work, money, and effort than a roomba, and unlike stylish vacuum cleaners, I can eat what they empty from their insides. Score.
That sounded somewhat disgusting, but you know what I mean. Eggs! Glorious, farm-fresh, all-natural, free-range eggs — which I am so used to eating that when I visit family on the holidays, I have to gag down the gelatinous goobers from supermarkets with a forced smile. I've downright spoiled myself enjoying their daily room-and-board in everything from baked goods to French toast. Plus, the entertainment a flock of birds offers you trumps anything on television. They are a delight, and all the while save me the shelf price of eggs equal in quality. With rising prices and a faltering economy, that's a win-win. What? Not have chickens? Crazy talk, that.
I'm assuming that you, dear reader, are probably also employed? Well, I want to assure you, a day job and sidewalks don't negate the possibility of raising livestock. Chickens live on a 9-to-5 schedule, too. They want to get up in the morning and eat, then get to work. By 5pm they are done with their toils and resting in their coop. They fit great into all lifestyles — from city rooftops to small town backyards and suburban sprawl. The growing popularity of urban flocks has even spawned some of its own literature. Books like Living with Chickens and Keep Chickens! are both written with the small backyard flock in mind. If I raised your eyebrows, they are worth a gander.
If you have been considering birds and putting them off, I urge you to do a little research and go for it. Something as simple as a click over to backyardchickens.com could be all you need to start making omelets from your own lawn in no time. And I can't lie, they are delicious.