Photo courtesy of almanac.com
By Helena Kilburn
The Green House’s ownership of several chickens became a tradition over the last seven years. These chickens usually come from the University Farm or Professor of Forestry Scott Torreano’s farm. The members of the Green House then take care of them during the school year and return them to their original farms over the summer.
Having chickens provides an interesting and simple way to reduce waste and generate food. It provides an chance to learn about raising animals in a humane way with a low environmental impact.
The Green House learns to take care of the chickens by making sure they are getting enough nutrients. For example, they give the chickens crushed oyster shells to ensure they get enough calcium. Last year, they also had a sustainable meat event where they learned about how chickens are processed for meat.
The residents get to know the chickens pretty well. According to Katie Sutton (C’18), “The relationships are pretty funny because some are more friendly than others. Chickens are all pretty nervous, but some will let you pick them up and hold them calmly. One of our chickens, I call her ‘crazy eyes,’ will not let me near her. I think she is a survivor cause she’s kinda scrawny and has patchy feathers missing from her neck and she has kind of a thousand yard stare. If you get near her, she squawks her head off.”
The Green House chickens have suffered one casualty so far this year, which is not especially uncommon. This chicken was killed by a raccoon, an ongoing threat.
“Feel free to pay your respect to our deceased chicken in the form of earthworm offerings to the live ones,” said Sutton.
Checking out the Green House chickens is an opportunity not to be missed. As said by Vanessa Moss (C’20), another Green House resident and interim head of the Farm Club, “Having laying hens doesn’t just supply our house and our community friends with fresh eggs, it gives students on campus the opportunity to come and watch chickens be chickens, which I think has an innate value.
“Finishing class and coming to watch hens scratch at the earth, peck for insects, poop, squawk, or go to roost teaches students something about them, while also being simply funny. After all, they’re just funny-looking feathered dinosaurs.”
All who are able are highly encouraged to go observe the Green House’s feathered dinosaurs, so stop by!