One of the side benefits of us getting chickens is the avenue for gifts it’s opened to give my spouse Sabra.
I stopped a long time ago trying to get her anything like clothes or, even worse, jewelry. She has a heightened sense of aesthetics and is big on things “going with” other things in her wardrobe. I can appreciate the nuance of “going with,” but only in terms of food. Mustard goes with hot dogs, ketchup with fries, chocolate syrup with vanilla ice cream, etc. With Sabra, however, it’s all about color and texture, two concepts that are alien to me. I discern only four colors, and two of them are black and white. As a result a few years back I bought her an expensive ($19.95 before tax) pair of earrings made of faux jade. I was especially proud of my choice. Not only did I think they matched her blue eyes but also thought I was buying the extra fancy faux grade stones as well.
Readers can guess for themselves how that all worked out.
But I’m a “when given lemons make lemonade” kind of guy, so I figured out a new strategy: just buy something I like, give it to her and then offer to take it off her hands. To date this has worked with a shotgun, chainsaw and remote control helicopter. But I’m also a romantic kind of guy. For example, we married on Valentine’s Day. How romantic is that? (It’s also easy to remember and saves buying a gift, but that’s another story.) So what’s a spendthrift but amorous 60-year-old guy like myself to do?
Cue the chickens, three Rhode Island Reds and two Barred Rocks, to be exact. We live in the county near Iowa City on a couple acres of land. We fenced off a 30’ by 30’ area behind the garage and converted a standard looking shed into a coop by adding a chicken door. The owners after us could easily convert the whole thing into a toddler play area with playhouse, or the shed could go back to being a shed.
In the meantime we’re enjoying Hen Solo, Paprika, Snowflake, Yolk-o Ono, and Jezebelle. Fresh eggs taste great, chickens amuse, coops lend to simple care and it’s a step away, albeit a very small one, from using gasoline to get food. I knew all this before we got our hens; the added benefit of opening up a gift stream was a clear bonus.
Like the other day, I was at the local farm and country store looking at hunting supplies. After loading my cart with several hundred dollars worth of a blind, extra-warm clothing and a Nintendo 3DS (a hunter has to stay sheltered, warm and alert), I headed over to the livestock supply section and picked up a bag of dried mealworms for the girls.
The reception back home was overwhelming. Both the hens and my spouse loved the gesture. Who would have thought that a gift of desiccated beetle larvae gets you a bigger hug than a dozen roses?
Or, on another trip to the bookstore to buy Christmas presents for the grandchildren, I wandered into the magazine section. Somewhere between AARP Bulletin and Food Guide, I came across “Chickens,” a magazine from Hobby Farms.
I pulled a copy of the January/February issue out of the rack. The motto under the flag claims it is “the essential poultry publication” and I agree. It’s 80 pages of practical information. Sabra read it cover to cover, and I enjoyed the layout and tongue in cheek use of language and art. The spread on “Birds With Curves,” detailing five large breeds was especially well done. And where else can you get “eggstravagant recipes” or an “Extreme Makeover, Henhouse Edition?”
For $5.99 it earned me two hugs plus a back rub.
I have to be careful, however. In the article titled “A complete guide to nest boxes,” Sabra learned that the dimensions of the nest boxes I built are off by an inch. Another article suggested shoveling an area clear of snow for the hens. Guess who will be redoing the boxes and shoveling snow off of grass?
Oh well, it’s just one more thing we do for love and chickens.