In the Sept. 28, 2009 edition of The New Yorker, I read an article called "The It Bird" by Susan Orleans (you need a subscription to read the full digital version unfortunately). In it, she discusses everything from the history of the chicken to the many economic and environmental rationales for owning chickens, and even gets into the emotional attachment she has to her chickens. Susan Orleans' article was the fifth or sixth story or blog entry I've stumbled upon lately which centered on personal sustainability starting with your very own chicken coop. But reading this article marked the first time that I actually thought "Wow, I could totally DO this." This was partially because Orleans discusses an affordable, modern and practical option for a coop - Omlet, a British company, offers vibrantly colored chicken coops (or Eglus as they're called) that are fashioned out of plastic and therefore easily washable.
And the much roomier Eglu Cubes:
I realize that this post may sound nuts to some people, but owning chickens isn't a foreign idea to me: my grandparents operated a fully-functioning farm (including a chicken coop) for decades and still live on the land today. And my good friend Lily Margaret lives in a suburban Orlando neighborhood and has had chickens living in her backyard for years. The fluffy cuties double as both a supplier of fresh, organic eggs and lovable pets. Now, I'm obviously not at a place in my life where I could or would do this - you need extra time and energy to commit to a proper coop - but in the future it is most definitely on my list of things to seriously consider. So, as an experiment I went on the Omlet website and went through the process of selecting an Eglu, some organic feed, and two immunized hens. For just over $800, this could be mine....
A good investment for sure, especially if you use a lot of eggs in cooking (which I do not, but my boyfriend and family certainly do), and I could sell them to local restaurants, Farmers Markets, caterers, etc. But in all honesty it'd be more about the companionship for me. I love animals of all kinds, and I adore the little doses of farm life that I have known throughout my life, and this is likely the closest I will get to ever living on a farm, so I'll take it. That being said, if I were to really do this some day, I'd want to go balls-out and design my own coop. The recent Design Sponge entry (Coop Homes) was an inspiration to do something more creative and give the chickens much more living room. My personal favorite is the eco-roof coop home below. Growing herbs on top on the coop!? YES PLEASE.
If this interests you, I would suggest checking out the Backyard Chickens website here. There are also tons of amazing books that I've been seeing about building/designing/successfully managing coops...which I will eventually get around to reading myself...hopefully!
Also, I remember having baby chicks when I was a kid, and I need them in my life again. For obvious reasons.