This morning I attended a Chook Workshop hosted by a local Lenah Valley family, who also manage a information-packed blog called Hoolio's Happy Hens. The workshop was organised through the local community association Lenah Links, which was only established the same week I bought this house 4 months ago. LL has already had garden workshops and a market; and upcoming workshops include 'how to preserve fruit' and there's another market planned for the 6th March. It's great that there are so many people in the local community willing to share their knowledge.
The workshop didn't dampen my chook owning aspirations, however it did impress on me how much of a commitment chooks are.
I have a dog who is pretty demanding, but if I go away I have a number of people crawling over each other to look after her for the weekend. With chooks however, you can't just drop them off at your friends' places for the weekend. If Pip has fleas I know it immediately because she'll jump onto my lap while I'm watching TV and start scratching (and will often share); whereas to know whether your chooks have lice or not, you have to catch them, hold them upside down and spread their feathers and try and spot these tiny skin-coloured creatures. As I found out in the very practical workshop this morning, catching chooks is pretty damn hard, and apparently today's chooks were 'placid' and 'friendly'! Additionally, while pip is quite happy just to curl up on the end of my bed (although she has a couple of cheap dog beds strategically littered around the house), Chooks need a quite involved house and cage system (if I want to protect both the chooks and my vegie garden, as well as having a damn good-looking chook house).
So it looks like I might need a bit more time and stability in my life before I embark on Chook ownership. Perhaps it's a post-PhD thing?
The workshop was really useful though, and I'm sure I'll use the information in the next couple of years. After all, I've already picked out the names for my chooks...