Playing chicken in Duncan

Dan Hudson harvests eggs from one of two roosts inside his German-style chicken coop gracing his Duncan backyard. - Peter W. Rusland
Dan Hudson harvests eggs from one of two roosts inside his German-style chicken coop gracing his Duncan backyard.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Andrea Hudson flips the lid on a carton of fresh eggs, and husband Dan easily identifies the layer.

“Lucy, Jill, Laurel, Hardy,” he points, naming each hen by its egg colour, size and flecks.

The Duncan couple’s flock also boasts Silky and Thelma.

“Louise turned out to be a Louis so we gave him away,” Andrea noted of their well-behaved pets acquired as three-day-old spring chicks from Buckerfield’s.

The Hudsons were unaware Duncan council was mulling a bylaw allowing a household coop to offer families fresh eggs.

“Not everyone will just rush out and get chickens,” said Amanda.

“Those who do, will do it properly.”

That’s also the hope of Councillor Sharon Jackson.

“I personally have no objection,” she said of urban coops, “though it’s not legal right now. We haven’t finished writing the bylaw yet — then we’ll have another public meeting. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t go through.”

So would Andrea.

“It would be very progressive; we’re not reinventing the wheel.”

Besides, their gentle flock attracts no rodents, and causes no noise or smell.

“All our neighbours are thrilled,” she said.

“The yappy dogs around here are worse,” Dan noted of barking.

The Hudsons educated themselves as backyard chicken owners so their roost would boost their groceries.

“We talked to farmers and raised the chicks in an aquarium for three months,” Andrea said.

Silky, a Rhode Island red, was gotten from Andrea’s mom, Petra, and became the mother hen.

The six hens lay about five eggs daily in a cedar German-chalet coop, complete with ornate doors, designed by Andrea, and built by dad Klaus, a carpenter.

“They all go to bed when the sun goes down,” noted Amanda.

By day, the flock pecks around the couple’s enclosed yard, if the Hudsons are home. If not, the birds stay inside the coop sporting a wire-enclosed front area. The enclosure’s front door has a pulley that, once pulled, allows hens to fly the coop.

The Hudsons gather eggs via an ornate side door accessing the roost.

“They’re free range, veggie-fed,” Dan said, of the chickenfeed diet augmented by kitchen scraps, slugs, bugs and apples.

Waste composts a vegetable garden.

“It’s a cycle,” Dan said of the shells-for-shelter deal.

“We’d be pretty sad if anything happened to them,” said Andrea. “They’re pretty spoiled chickens.”

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