What’s Up? Chicken Butt!
Luckily, my job this morning only involved holding the chickens as Meagan did all the dirty work. Seriously, dirty. The chickens at Gather Around have some sort of gastrointestinal problems, and we had the joy of working together to trim their tail feathers to ensure that their less-than-firm poop did not stick around and lead to infection, or worse, maggots.
Jon holding one of the chickens
For background, Gather Around is a CSA started by a local permaculture club. The space for the garden, a 1/2-acre blacktop lot, was donated to them by a friend, and the work they have done there is incredible. Apparently they began by dumping several truckloads of mulch on the plot and slowly carving paths into it as it decomposed, but you couldn’t tell now. It’s a veritable edible jungle with peas climbing up old swing sets, and squash beginning to take over a bamboo teepee erected to serve as their summer home.
Several years ago, after jumping through some legislative hoops, they managed to get permission to build a chicken coop that still stands. Many (myself included) might assume that chickens would be low maintenance birds- drop them some food and water on a regular basis and they’ll lay their speckled brown bounty for you- but they (and I) would be mistaken. As we clipped away feathers that might have attracted flies and maggots, I learned that keeping these chickens is no easy task. Apparently more than a few of these birds have needed trips to a doctor for everything from heart disease to broken toes. Nearly every ailment that a small child might come down with can afflict chickens as well.
Phil underneath a teepee they constructed the same day.Despite these misconceptions, I’ve got to say that it’s rewarding to see, care for, and live of off these animals. It takes time, but these birds are worth the effort. The straw laid down in their coop is collected regularly and turned into a powerful fertilizer, and during the spring months they lay enough eggs to feed a family of four breakfast every morning. Working at this plot is like taking a step back in time, and realizing what it means to make a food production operation truly full circle.