Allen is not your typical chicken keeper: he’s a retired builder/designer and at 82, rides a big-ass 1750cc motorcycle the size of a small car. It’s part of his ‘toy collection’ that includes a 750cc motorcycle, a 2-seater plane and a sailboat.
I met him in the summer of 2017 when he got a young cockerel from me. Currently he has three roosters: my Appenzeller Spitzhauben x Easter Egger, a Welsummer and a rare Blue Breda; and several hens, including two from me.
Allen loves roosters, loves their crowing and would keep only roosters if he could. Hens are just company for the boys, he doesn’t really care about egg production. His wife, Russet, on the other hand, could do without them altogether.
They’ve formed a bit of a truce: their 2-acre waterfront property on Gabriola, which they’ve owned for nearly 40 years, is divided into three sections – he gets the upper and lower portions, and she gets the middle.
After touring their place, I’d say it’s a pretty sweet middle. Russet’s acre contains a large house overlooking the water, with an aggregate deck covering a 35,000 gallon cistern, a guesthouse and lovely garden. Allen has seemingly endless outbuildings for woodworking, storage and hatching chicken eggs.
The two sections are divided by an arbour, which they refer to as the ‘Peace Arch’.
They have an irregular shaped lot that follows the line of the bay, with 600’ of waterfront and a sandy beach below the house. The property has two access points to the water. Allen took me through a trail on the low side of their property down to the beach.
He bellowed out ‘hello’ and was answered by honking. He’s got two Chinese Swan Geese, which apparently just turned up one day three years ago and have never left. They were new to the island, purchased by some neighbours. By the time Allen tracked them down the geese were happy in their new home so their original owner decided to leave them be.
We walked along the sandy beach, littered with sandstone boulders, then up a staircase. Part way up the slope is a glass house with swing and bench with fantastic views to Mudge and Link Islands. By the time we made it to the end of the trail we were back at the house and the end of my tour.
Allen has one, and possibly two, roosters too many. The gorgeous boy I gave him is scrapping with the head rooster so he has to find new digs. If you can offer this guy a forever home you’d make Allen happy. And I bet you’d make Russet even happier.
Update: On December 8, 2018 Allen had a fire which destroyed both coops and two outbuildings, killing four chickens and injuring the remaining six.
All photos Bitchin’ Chickens