How Chickens and Softball Fields Are Related

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Buff Orpington(hen) 
Buff Orpington Chicken (Image via Wikipedia)
I mentioned in my previous post that my husband, who really is an A+ husband and has had 17 years with me to prove it, is not a country boy.  Oh, he likes living in our home and thinks it's the most beautiful place on earth, and after 15 years in boarding schools taking care of teenagers he REALLY likes that our neighbors are at a distance, but he's not really into some of the pieces of country life that attract me.

At the top of that list is my chicken fixation.  I'm a cook and one who loves the idea of learning about where my food comes from, so an animal that can contribute to our kitchen larder without my having to kill them is highly appealing to me.  I've read so much about chickens that it's borderline ridiculous, and my husband throughout it all has been supportive at a distance, "um-hmmming" in all the right places, until we moved to the house.

When we bought our house last spring, with all its space (almost three acres), my mother made an off-hand comment about how great it was that we'd be able to finally have chickens and my husband's face looked appalled.  "You mean, soon?!" All of sudden there was a lot of backpedaling of support and anytime I mentioned how great Buff Orpington chickens are, his brow would furrow.  I later found out that this was because he thought the chickens would live with us IN OUR HOUSE.

The revelation happened when I mentioned a great chicken coop design I liked from Amish Goods, who advertise in my monthly Backyard Poultry magazine.

Husband: "A coop?" he asked quizzically. 
Me: "Yes," I replied wondering what the heck he was getting at.
H:"So...they are not going to live with us?"
M:"What? What are you talking about?"
H: (blushing) "I figured they'd live with us.  You know, like in the basement."
M: "Whaaaa???"
H: (defensively) "Well, come on, a lot of cats live outside, but you have all the cats live with us."

Which is true, we have indoor cats, because my early reading (hey, I'm a librarian - nothing is done without a phenomenal amount of research) showed how indoor cats live a tremendous number of years longer on average than an outdoor cat.  So I took a deep breath and explained that the life expectency of chickens is NOT improved by them living in the house with people, and also explained the whole "free range" thing which seemed to go over with a small degree of relief.

But he still wasn't totally on board.  Did I mention that my husband was the softball coach at our school?  He really wants our back field to be made into a softball field (he's a great coach - he's improved my batting like you would not believe), so realizing that marriage is the art of compromise, it occured to me that this was my bargaining chip.  Both projects will cost money, the field for the grading and seeding, and the cost of a nicely made coop and the sexed chicks (I only want hens, no noisy roosters) for my chicken project.  So I offered that we would save up the money for both and do them at the same time.  He was SO relieved and gave me a big smile and the deal was struck.  I think because he thinks it's never going to happen. 

It's so sad, isn't it, that after 17 years he still doesn't know my determination level, eh?


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