Adventures in Powell River: Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens
Out my back door and across the alley live Ioni and Courtney, and Henrietta, Gertrude, and Berta. Ioni and Courtney live in a bright blue Craftsman style house with yellow trim.
Henrietta, Gertrude, and Berta live in a small wooden coop in the backyard, because they are of course, chickens.
City of Powell River amended its Animal Control Bylaw back in December 2012 to allow residents to keep up to three poultry (except roosters) on any sized city lot. More and more people are taking advantage this. There’s a very active facebook group called Powell River Backyard Chicken Peeps and the Powell River Farmers Institute is a great resource.
For Ioni and Courtney, having chickens is life-enriching and requires less work than Ioni expected. He built the chicken coop at no cost, using re-purposed materials, and by feeding the hens kitchen scraps and worms along with purchased grain-based feed, the girls pay for themselves in eggs and in fertilizer for the veggie garden.
There’s also bedding for the ladies, and with straw being fairly expensive and hard to get sometimes, Ioni and Courtney use garden chaff and wood shavings.
Henrietta, Gertrude, and Berta are Buff Orpington chickens, a heritage breed. Courtney likes them because they’re heartier, and heavier so they tend not to take flight all that much.
Ensuring the hens’ safety is important as there are predators in the area, like raccoons, bears, and even ravens and eagles will target smaller breeds.
Having chickens seems like the natural thing to do for Ioni and Courtney, as they are both very earth-based. They actually first met at a farmers’ market in Toronto.
Ioni studied botany at the University of Toronto and besides this, his passions are mixed media and providing information to the public about plants through his Vegetation Station website and radio show on Community Radio CJMP. He also provides plant walks and workshops with topics like Weeds and Alleyways and Backyard Compost like a Pro!
Courtney studied geography and anthropology as well as herbal medicine. She worked for five years on an organic market farm in Ontario, and then while living in Montreal, she dreamed of a life of crime that involved keeping an illegal roost of chickens. Training chickens for therapy work also really appeals to her.
Henrietta, Gertrude, and Berta each have their own distinct personality and are very curious and social. They just love wood bugs and worms. As Buff Orpingtons, they will each produce on average about 200 eggs per year and produce for a couple years or so.
Ioni and Courtney have discussed what happens when the three stop producing and Ioni sums it up best when he says: the hens enjoy being alive and are so happy being chickens, why put an end to that?
And the neighbourhood is happy to have them! People slowly drive along the lane with their children curious to see how the chickens are doing. And as an across-the-alley neighbour, it brings a smile to my face any time I’m out in my yard and I hear the girls bock-bock-bocking away. Just the other day I heard them get all excited as they sensed Ioni and Courtney’s car returning home.
Have to tell you: it’s got Bob and I seriously considering getting some chickens.
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