I’ve had a coop for 10 or 11 years. This is actually version 2.0. I've had different chickens; they kind of go through phases. I had three that died this last year, so I need to add some new ones next spring.
[Where do you get new chickens?] There's the chicken lady who's fantastic at Belmont Feed and Seed. But what I usually do is I go down to where my parents live in central Indiana. There's the Rural King Farm Store. Rural King, baby! You can get your Wrangler fashion and your chicken supplies. The chicken feed and the chickens are all half the price of what they are in Chicago.
[What's been your primary motivation?] Eggs. And I'm kind of an animal person. I was raised on a farm, not a big agricultural farm, but a small rural farm with various animals. So I think I have some animal husbandry in my blood; that’s what my people do. My family had chickens and goats and pigs and horses and sheep and different things.
Caring for animals is something I enjoy doing. The dog has a much bigger part in my family's life. The chickens are just these creatures outside, but I enjoy them. I spend a couple minutes a day with them, and I like the eggs. To me, it's kind of a grounding thing to have animals that I care for.
[Do you name your chickens?] I yell threatening names at them if they annoy me, like, “You're gonna be chicken soup or chicken pot pie,” but I don't name them. I have a neighbor friend with whom we trade chicken care when we travel. She's a retired seminary professor, and she has given them biblical women names, which I don't even remember what they are. They're full, Old Testament, Hebrew names. One of them was dying and she gave it the name Tabitha. It was gonna come back from the dead a few times.
[How long have you lived here?] I’ve lived in this building almost 15 years. Before that, I lived in Uptown and Andersonville. When it came time to buy a family home, we couldn't afford anything by the lake, and I did not realize there was civilization west of Western Avenue. I didn't even know if you had grocery stores over here. I discovered that there is some nice community over here in this area and there are grocery stores. I like the family orientation and feeling like I could walk around my neighborhood and greet neighbors that I know and run into neighbors at the store. Just those neighborly things – like getting together at Big Hill and helping each other. I borrowed a cup of brown sugar this week, and I trade eggs for tomatoes with your brother. It's all those friendly, neighborly things.
Heather Yutzy was interviewed by a neighbor in September of 2022.