Mail Call May/June 2015: Raising Chickens, Planting Trees, Garden Trugs, Woodstoves and More

Readers share their memories and insights about raising chickens, planting trees, garden trugs, woodstoves and more.

| May/June 2015

  • Younger brother runs from the dominant rooster.
    Illustration by Brian Orr
  • Growing trees, mostly from seed, in an urban backyard in Lubbock, Texas.
    Photo courtesy Laura Lewis
  • After seeing the project in GRIT, Jeff built this garden trug for his wife, Rachelle.
    Photo courtesy Rachelle and Jeff Kopp
  • Hunting for praying mantis eggs in the fall is a seasonal chore turned ritual.
    Photo courtesy Marcel and Dayna Quirijnen
  • Deon Matzen is looking for a little more information on his woodstove that heats his house and cooks his food.
    Photo by Deon Matzen
  • "Raise Resister and Cereals Will Never Burn."
    Photo by Deon Matzen
  • Possible model number of Deon Matzen's woodstove made by Wehrle.
    Photo by Deon Matzen

Facing Fears

My husband and I were in Tractor Supply, and he picked up a copy of your magazine (Volume 3 of the annual Guide to Backyard Chickens). There was one article that he couldn’t wait for me to read, Adventures in Chicken Keeping. I enjoyed the article because it brought back so many memories.

Every Easter the Five-and-Dime store would have baby peeps, dyed in beautiful spring colors — purple, yellow, pink and green. If I remember correctly, they were 10 cents each. We would get a bunch of them, and as far as I am concerned, their cuteness only lasted as long as their colors did. Once they started to get real feathers, I was done with them. My brothers had no problem, but we always had roosters, and I swear they waited until I came out of the house to go after me. I would walk outside with a broom in my hand to beat them off. Most of the summer, I felt like a prisoner in my own house, but my mother loved chickens. It didn’t matter that her daughter was afraid. I guess she figured I would get over it.

Here I am at 54, and let me tell you, I have not gotten over it. Birds of any kind scare me to death. This all started when I was 4 — running around playing outside — and ran into the whole flock of banty chickens. They pecked me from head to toe. I realize that they were probably scared, too, but they are not the nicest chickens to have, and that did it for me. But my mother still raised chickens.

When I married my husband, he wanted to get chickens, and I said, “No way.” We have 11 acres and have raised pigs, sheep and Angus cattle, but no chickens. All of a sudden this winter, he started looking into how to build a chicken coop and asked me where a good place for one would be. My answer was simple: “In someone else’s yard.”

One day he was on the phone with our son and daughter-in-law, and he said he wanted to get some chickens. I told him the only way he was getting chickens was if the remodeling projects for the house got finished first, which were the main bathroom and our half bath. As I am writing this, he is just putting the grout on the new ceramic floor in the main bathroom. He totally gutted it out, rebuilt the floor, added a new vanity, redid the plumbing, gave it a paint job and lights, and the toilet and shower are on the way. So, guess what is coming in June? That’s right: Chickens.

The deal is that they stay in the coop and are always fenced in behind the barn so I never have to deal with them, and he knows I will never feed, gather eggs, or touch them, only as baby chicks. My grandson said, “Grandma, it has been 50 years. Get over it.” I don’t see that happening, but I do have a brand-new bathroom.

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