A Coop Raising

Back in the day, here in rural America, a “barn raising” was a pretty common thing. It’s actually still common among the Amish and Mennonite. Simply put, it’s when the local community bands together to help a farmer build a barn. Traditionally the men did the construction and the women cooked and served the food. Over the weekend, we here had a bit of what you could call a “coop raising.”

I mentioned in a recent post that my Dad had finally agreed to let me get chickens. I’ve wanted them for at least three years now. Since he was out of work and looking for more home-based projects, he finally said yes. (Though, it might have had more to do with the fact that over the last year or so, we always seemed to be out of eggs.) In the beginning, I envisioned myself with about a dozen chickens but my father wasn’t known for doing things small. He said that if we were going to raise one dozen, we might as well raise three dozen and make it count. When it was all said and done, we were scheduled to get 42 chicks a few days before my birthday. After my Dad passed, many people asked if I was still going to get the chickens. I said no because I was still reeling from the shock of losing him. Besides, we hadn’t even built the coop yet. But things settled and friends and family with big hearts extended offers of help and encouragement.

On both Saturday and Sunday, a handful of kindhearted people showed up and built a seriously impressive coop and run. There was so much food and laughter and hard work. Above are some sneak peeks of what has been completed so far. There are still some things to finish up but we have a good month before my little flock arrives. The first year’s operation has been scaled back. I am now scheduled to get 16 chicks—-9 layers and 6 meat birds (plus the one exotic they throw in the order, who has already been dubbed Chuck, regardless of its sex.) If things go well this year, I can get more birds next year.

The only word I can think of to describe this whole experience is bittersweet. The Bitter: I really thought I’d be going through this process with my Dad, learning from him. The Sweet: It’s something I’ve dreamed of for a while and now it’s finally happening, thanks to so many amazing people.

You readers here on the blog better get ready for an overload of cute chick photos next month! In the meantime, do you keep chickens? Any tips or stories to share?