After watching the news of COVID-19 in other countries in late winter of 2020 of what was possibly about to happen in the United States, my family decided to raise some chickens. Let me start by saying I have always wanted chickens.
We are fortunate to have bought one of the few remaining larger lots overlooking Lake Travis in central Texas. My wonderful husband built me a dream art studio on our land (I’m an art educator), which I share with our community for camps, workshops and, now, chickens.
However, after watching the news of what was slowly unfolding in other countries across the world, I realized we were in it for a long run of sheltering in place.
Getting Cooped Up
I wanted a family project to create with my twin boys (Adrien and Julien) during this time. So the Thursday of spring break, I preordered a chicken coop. That Friday, after I left school, Adrien, Julien and I went to the farm-supply store and purchased some baby chicks.
We drove home listening to the beautiful chirping of the sweet chicks now in our care. I told my boys that Daddy might not be happy with this, but he loves us and will get over it!
Needless to say, my loving and supportive husband quickly got over his initial apprehension. He soon accepted our new flock of friends. He even helped us in assembling the coop and fencing in the chicken run area, installing an automatic door and creating a few sturdy bench swings and roosting areas.
His research and support created a safe environment of enjoyment for our chickens.
A Poultry Palette
As an art educator, I love rainbows and color, and our area for chickens was no exception.
With the inspiration of my students and the stay-at-home orders, the kids were busy sharing the creations they were making at their homes via emails and such. Thus, we decided on the idea of the rainbow stained-glass-looking backdrop.
The art students that came to our art camp over the summer found more than art to relax them. They enjoyed a flock of feathery friends to catch and adore!
One of the pleasures of being around children is hearing their laughter as find their happy place with their creations and watch them chase and catch chickens.
I thoroughly enjoy sitting on one of the swinging benches and watching the chickens’ personalities. However, I have come to realize that my chicken therapy is also therapy for children, as well. Several parents have messaged me asking if they can swing by to let their child visit our chickens.
We even had a family chicken-sit for us!
Adrien and Julien have named all our chickens, and with the help of my art students some have been renamed. St Patty, Lucky, Strawberry, Raspberry, Blue, Blueberry, Owl, Hedgy, Blackberry, King Boss and First Mate. I thoroughly love what I do, creating art with others and chicken therapy!
Amber Gordon is the owner of ArtBarnATX. She teaches art at Laura Welch Bush Elementary in Austin, Texas. This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of Chickens magazine.
We Want To Hear From You
Tell us your story, and we may choose it to run in our regular “Chicken Chat” column! Email the story of your chickens in about 750 words to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: Chicken Chat). Be sure to include high-resolution images or photos of yourself, your chickens and/or your coop. The author of each issue’s published essay will receive a special farm sign and T-shirt from Stromberg’s Chickens and Game Birds Unlimited (800-720-1134; www.strombergschickens.com), which offers a selection of birds, books, supplies and equipment for the breeding, rearing and management of poultry, ducks, guineas, waterfowl, game birds, peafowl, pheasants, quail and doves!