By Dottie Dewberry
For the WPT
The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image.
Recently I was out and about the neighborhood looking for a story when I arrived at the Paul Gordons’ estate. As we rambled around the yard looking at the vegetable garden and all its wonder, gazing at their (homebuilt) beautiful swimming pool with its attached deck, and just staring in awe at all the interesting features in their back yard I saw what Robbie called a chicken tractor.
Huh? What is a chicken tractor? It was the most unique apparatus I’ve seen in a while. It had a chicken coop up high with a pen attached. There were small doors on one side at the bottom of the coop (about chest high) with latches so you could open and get out the eggs. There is a gate under the side of the coop that lets you add chickens or for whatever reason you need to go into the coop. Now how clever is that? The hens can come up into the house from the pen and lay their eggs and all you do is open the door, reach in and get them.
The whole thing is covered with a top, but the rest is chicken wire all the way to the ground. Nothing gets under or gets out. On the front, where the two wheels are attached to the pen, is a towing rope. On the back is one wheel so when you get ready to move the pen it just rolls along on its three wheels.
Call them what you will, chicken tractors, mobile coops or pasture pens, it lets you move your hens safely around your yard to feed on seeds and bugs and to fertilize your yard. Now is that unique or not?
Robbie told me that they had some Bantam chickens: Rhode Island Reds, Silver Sebrights Bantams, Ameraucana and Buff Cochin. After some research, I`ve tried to give future chicken farmers a little history of the Gordons’ brood.
“Bantam chickens are small varieties of chickens. The name comes from the city of Bantam, Indonesia, which was once a place where these breeds were traded and sold.”
“The Rhode Island Red is a breed of chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). They are a utility bird, raised for meat and eggs, and also as show birds. Rhode Island Reds are held in such high esteem that they’re the official Rhode Island state bird.”
“The Sebright /ˈsiːbraɪt/ is a breed of chicken named after its developer, Sir John Saunders Sebright. The Sebright is one of the oldest recorded British ‘true’ bantam (meaning it is a miniature bird with no corresponding large version of the breed), created in the 19th century through a selective breeding program designed to produce an ornamental breed.”
“The Ameraucana (popularized as “Americana”) was developed in the USA from the non-standard “Easter Egger” chicken whose ancestors were South American Araucanas. It was accepted as an official breed in 1984. Of chickens that lay colored eggs, Ameraucana chickens produce an above average number of blue/green eggs.”
“Cochin ancestors first originated in the United States after the Chinese chicken, which was tight-feathered and had moderate to no feathers on their legs, was brought to the eastern coast around 1845. The cochin is a hardy, friendly, and docile chicken. Cochins also will adapt very easily to confined spaces. The bantam version of the cochin is of the feather legged class.”
As much as I enjoyed the tour of the vegetable garden, the chicken tractor was an original visual for me.