When I recently met general contractor, Kara O'Brien to help me remodel my kitchen, we ended up spending more time talking about her brood of chickens than things like appliances, tile or cabinetry. But I blame it all on Ellen DeHeneres. This is she, above. Once I heard her fabulous name, I just had to know more...
Kara has 11 chickens in all and each one is quite different than the next. This is Fleur, which is French for flower. Her breed is, afterall, Mille Fleur d'Uccle. Mille Fleur means 'thousand flowers,' which plays off her pretty plumage. Fleur is full grown here and Kara calls her the Love Chicken as she can't wait to snuggle. Kara pets her every day without fail- "She loves to be petted. Her whole body vibrates."
Kara says that Mango, shown top right, is incredibly sweet and friendly. Chicken Piccata, a Polish chicken, (they are called Polish but are actually from Holland) is bottom right. Kara, "Piccata is neurotic and screamy. My daughter, Walker and I joke that she's always filing a complaint with the Administration!"
The lovely Amelia is a light Brahma chicken. Kara describes her as very regal and benevolent, adding "She rules with a velvet wing." (Kara has the best descriptions)
This gorgeous thing is a Wyandotte chicken which Kara aptly named, Tammy Wynette. She has russet brown feathers laced in lavender. Her pretty plumage makes me think of a pine cone and the perfection and genius of mother nature. Tammy Wynette is the most gentle bird of the group.
And then came Izzy-Belle. How can you not love this lanky, cotton ball charmer? She's a Japanese Silkie with five toes on each foot and black skin, whom Kara describes as "meek like a melted bunny." She's a little on the dumb side and can't fly at all, so Kara built her a special needs ramp up to the coop so she can roost with the others. (As Kara says, "Bless her heart.") Kara also is Izzy's part time stylist- cutting hair away from her eyes so she can see.
When Kara called all the chickens back into the coop, they all came a running, except Izzy-Belle...she was in her own little world of course. We retrieved her by hand.
As Kara is a contractor, she built her own incredible coop using reclaimed materials and leftover pieces from contractor jobs. The tin roof is new but the pink door Kara found in the West End and all the trim came off a house from a recent gig. The stained glass window is Victorian from 1890 and the side window is a craftsman from 1910.
But my favorite part may be the 60' long chicken tunnel or Chunnel Kara recently added to the coop that runs along the far end of her property. Lots of chicken owners use them to give their birds more space and protection. Kara built hers from wooden pallets, then painted the chunnel a green color to blend with the yard. She found a Valspar historic paint color called La Fonda Jalapeno, which thrilled her to no end. The chickens went wild with the new addition. Kara, "Their knees were up high like ladies in skirts, running down the thing."
From top left is Jackie Onassis, Tammy Wynette and Sipsie.
As you can tell, Kara treats her chicks well. They eat garden peppers, tomatoes, organic oatmeal, yogurt and all manner of table scraps (they love frozen watermelon). She recommends all chicken owners add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to every gallon of water to keep them nice and healthy. A lover of wildlife with a fun, creative spirit, Kara is a girl after my own heart. But after naming one of her chickens Ellen DeHeneres, I guess I already knew that....
If you're in Atlanta this weekend, come meet Kara, Ellen DeHeneres, Izzy-Belle, Chicken Piccata and others at the fabulous Urban Coop Tour. 12 chicken coops will be featured and will certainly be an entertaining way to spend an afternoon or two- especially if you're hoping to start your own backyard brood. Purchase tickets here and checkout the Urban Coop Facebook page here.
Photos and Content: Sweet Peach