It’s that time of year again when I pony up $25 to renew my domesticated hen permit from Metro Nashville Public Health Department. Whenever that pale blue certificate arrives in the mail, I pause to think of the benefits our urban chicken coop has brought our family.
I’m not just talking about fresh eggs, which roll in at a rate of about two dozen a week. I’m talking about unintended benefits I never could have foreseen.
For one thing, having chickens in the backyard has reduced our kitchen waste significantly, because the hens will eat anything we scrape off our plates. That means fewer trips to the garbage bin in the backyard and fewer black garbage bags thrown into a landfill.
And there are the psychic benefits. How many neighbors have brought their children or grandchildren over to visit our hens? I’ve lost count, but we make a lot of friends that way.
This year, when I swapped out my construction school diploma for my 2018 domesticated hen permit in the picture frame on our kitchen wall, I was reminded that it was thanks to our hens that I ended up in construction school in the first place.
About six years ago, when we were ready to upgrade our makeshift chicken pen into a predator-proof coop and run, we had to contract the job out to a builder.
You don’t want to know how much I paid to have that coop constructed. My husband–who, despite daily protestations, secretly enjoys henkeeping…I mean, I hope–calculates that if you factor in expenses associated with amortization and organic layer mash, each egg costs about seven bucks.
Yes, that is embarrassing.
But the real shame in my mind was that I lacked the technical know-how to build a house for six birds. I wanted to learn to build things.
So, I guess you could say I went back to college to learn to build a chicken coop.
Which is all to say, if you’re considering raising a microflock in your backyard–and I highly recommend it–call me and I can talk you through the particulars. Or when the weather gets nice, come by for a visit. I’ll give you a tour of the Fox henhouse–and, if you’re hungry, a $14 omelet.