posted on by Jackie Bebenroth

A chicken change of heart

This writer has never liked chickens. Chicken salad, yes. Buffalo chicken wraps, sure. Chicken soup for the soul, fine. But real, live, cluckin’, crappin’ hens? They can go suck an egg. So when Chef Ben Bebenroth started his chicken coop search for Spice Acres Suburbia, he had some convincing to do first.

“They’ll fertilize the crops with high-nitrogen poop for the compost.”
“They eat a lot of pests – ticks, grasshoppers, bugs.”
“We can save money on eggs at the restaurant.”
“The eggs will be more nutritious.”

Upon winning the chicken battle on the home front, he proceeded to build his coop out of leftover wood from the old Spice Kitchen + Bar patio fence.

Upcycled wood from the old restaurant patio fence.

3 weeks + 12 trips to the hardware store + endless stream of cuss words = 1 upcycled Spice Acres chicken coop.

Ten chickens (courtesy of Brunty Farms) arrived in the winter and instantly made themselves at home. The coop gave them shelter from 2012 blizzards and they huddled up to keep warm enough to produce up to eight eggs a day!

As the days warmed, they’ve preferred to roam around the yard. Fortunately, the neighbors have been very understanding.


Who wouldn’t want free organic fertilizer?

They stay within a three-yard radius and head over to the trees to roost at around 7:00 every night.

Wild roost in a backyard pine.

Wild roost in a backyard pine.

The only problem with free-roam chickens is that every day is an egg hunt. Eggs are found in the funniest places.


Compost jackpot!

Granted, it took some time, but these hens can really grow on you.  They eat grains, moldy bread, and any random bug morsel they can scratch up in the yard…and then magically transform it into a protein-rich meal.


Omelettes, anyone?

They coo and bawk, and follow you around.

The pied chicken pipers.

The pied chicken pipers.

They sneak up on you when you least expect it.

You don't even have a license, chicken.

You don’t even have a license, chicken.

Also, kids dig ’em.

Caught on camera.

Caught on camera.

The other thing about chickens is that they’re damn photogenic. At the risk of boring our instagram followers to tears, we can’t stop posting filtered photos of the chickens in strategic positions in and around the house.

Hello, lady.

Hello, lady.

Please don't poop on the patio, chicken.

Please don’t poop on the patio, chicken.

Ok, what the cluck?

Ok, what the cluck?

So, at the end of the day, maybe chickens aren’t so bad. They’ve become entertaining, egg producing little creatures who have earned their place as valuable members of the suburban farm family. Look for their work on the Spice Kitchen + Bar spring menu!


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