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Help the Hens at Northwest

The Northwest School has implemented a new program in which students and faculty can volunteer to feed and care for the school chickens. There are six chickens at Northwest who came to the school last year. The hens add to Northwest’s urban and sustainable culture, and their eggs are often used in the school kitchen. Upon first hearing of this program, I was thrilled. My family used to have chickens, and I loved giving them produce after school and making scrambles with their fresh eggs. Recently, I volunteered to care for Northwest’s chickens, as I was curious about the program and excited to interact with chickens again. The job involves collecting eggs, refilling the feed and water containers, checking the health of the hens, and much more.               

When I first arrived for my shift, I unlocked the coop to give all six hens free range time while I completed the rest of my tasks. First, I picked up their two full water bins and carried them over to the sink behind the coop. I dumped out the water, scrubbed the containers, and refilled them. After refilling their water, I noticed that the food containers in the coop were almost empty. I ran to retrieve fresh food and quickly refilled all three containers. My next job was to check the health of the hens. To do this, I picked up each hen and examined their wings, waddles, and comb. I checked for missing feathers or anything out of the ordinary. After monitoring their wellness, I was ready to check for eggs. Bringing eggs back to my family was satisfying and made the job completely worth it! We used the eggs the next morning as my dad made omelettes for our whole family.                   

The chickens each have individual personalities and characteristics that allowed me to recognize their behaviors. For example, several of the chickens were much more docile while the rest were lively and friendly. Initially, I did not notice the many personalities of the chickens, but as I continued to care for them, I became more aware of each chicken’s unique traits. 

After completing this volunteer job, I can absolutely recommend it to all Northwest students and faculty who are looking for a safe way to get outside during break. Taking care of the chickens will allow you to settle into a routine while still safely quarantining. It may seem intimidating to test out a new hobby, but taking care of chickens is the perfect way to get involved in Northwest’s community and urban Seattle life. It can be difficult to get outside during our cold winter, but doing so will have a refreshing and positive effect on your mental health.

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