- Our Town
Shared chickens build social capital
The six chickens roaming around Mai Yasue's yard draw-in people just walking by, but also, bring her neighbours into the yard in almost a daily basis. The chickens are shared chickens, between Mai and neighbours Kelly Matzen, and Darryl Nixon.
"I wanted chickens, but sometimes have to go to Squamish for chunks of time for work," says Mai.
Kelly Matzen says her and Mai hit upon their common affinity for chickens, and their husbands common disinterest in them.
"My husband Tom said their was no way he was willing to have chickens pooping in our front yard, and Mai's husband Gary has made it clear that he's fine with chickens pooping in the front yard, as long as he doesn't have to do anything to take care of them."
At the same time as they hit upon this common affinity, they found out that Nixon was thinking about building a coop.
"He had the strength that neither Kelly or I did," says Yasue, "which is building."
Different needs and different ideas of animal husbandry have meant that the neighbours have had to negotiate how to do things.
For example, Matzen and her son Tyler wanted to raise the chickens from chicks.
"I think this is an experience every kid should have," says Matzen. "The chicks stayed with us for the first three months. They would sit on an electric blanket on Tyler's bed during story-time. Once, we caught Tyler taking the chicks up for a bath. Fortunately he didn't actually take them in the bath they were just watching."
Mai says that so far, she feels the sharing of responsibilities is working out well.
"We need to be in constant communication, which is fine. It builds social capital."
The chickens started laying eggs just a few weeks ago. Every day the eggs are shared among the three families.
Their project has inspired a number of their other neighbours to get together and start a shared bee-keeping project in the spring.
The upcoming Bowen Agricultural Alliance Community Gathering will provide a space where people with shared interests like these, can come together and find each other, and grow all sorts of new projects.