Last summer I built a chicken coop.
A year later, I have realized the only reason my wife was able to convince me to join her in the Great Chicken Adventure is because I am a stupid-stupid man.
The chicks were cute when they arrived 14 months ago, and we put them in a wooden box in the basement with a lid we made from wood scrap and chicken wire. Our cats spent an enormous amount of time down there, licking their chops and staring avidly through the wire mesh at the appetizing morsels chirping inside. While the baby handfuls of downy fluff made little bird noises down cellar, I quickly built the coop. It was the poultry equivalent of a luxury hotel in the backyard. As soon as they were large enough, they moved into their new home.
Fall came to an end, and the chickens had managed to produce their first egg. We celebrated this egg as if it were manna from heaven. We took pictures of it and posted the images to social media. With each “like”, those who looked at our selfie image of an aging couple holding a typical brown egg, grinning as if we were presenting our firstborn at a family reunion, reinforced the somehow glamorous idea that we were genuine chicken ranchers.
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Of course, winter came, and the chickens ended their egg laying pretty quick after producing maybe a half-dozen eggs. Six eggs seemed a little paltry for the several hundred dollars we invested, but we called it a success.
This summer we learned that three healthy adult chickens produce a lot of eggs, about 2-3 eggs each day. So we are talking 14-20 eggs each week.
We tried to increase our consumption of eggs to match the production. We’ve been eating fried eggs, quiche, deviled eggs, scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos and have put boiled eggs into just about everything. On a side note, I have discovered that barbecue sauce does not improve any sort of egg recipe. We have eggs stored in three cartons in the refrigerator, and a pile growing on the kitchen counter. Yes, fresh eggs are tastier and more yellow than store bought eggs, but after choking down a tasty yellow fresh egg for the 20th time in a week, all you can pray for is that the next burp tastes like anything other than more eggs.
This morning I had an ugly thought while staring at the sunrise over our property.
A beautiful dawn is supposed to make the world pause for a few moments to contemplate a global navel serenaded by the sounds of cheerful birds and soft whispering breezes passing through the rustling leaves of joyful and expectant trees, ready to soak up the life-giving energy of the sun.
But three chickens squawking endlessly at 4:30 in the freakin’ morning was about as inspiring as a gas station sandwich three weeks past its sell by date.
As I stood yawning at the door, feeling the cool breeze raise goosebumps on my bare shins sticking out of the bottom of my bathrobe, I gave a malevolent glare at the chicken coop I built last summer. The chickens screeched a cacophony announcing the arrival of yet another couple of eggs.
I thought to myself, grilled chicken sounds mighty yummy, and I can use barbecue sauce.