Driving rain greeted us this past weekend, the kind of tempestuous spring weather best spent indoors with reruns of HBO shows and French press coffee. Instead Mike and I spent it building a chicken coop. Of course. The hardest part to believe is it wasn’t even my idea.

On Friday evening the hubby declared, “We should get some chickens.” I laughed, because on a regular basis I petition for pet goats, but I fell asleep assuming a few sips of whiskey had him in a mood for small-town nostalgia and nothing more. By Saturday morning I knew better. The tool belt was on. Let the project mayhem begin.

After buying a booklet on chicken coop construction, we were off to scavenge for materials. Luckily for us a warehouse specializing in salvaged construction goods in East Palo Alto had recently switched locations, leaving behind a mess of lumber and corrugated tin for free or very cheap. Our dog Denali thought we had lost our minds as we loaded the 4Runner in the muddy abandoned lot.

Back at the house, the rain kept pouring, the husband kept sawing and hammering, the dog kept staring out the window suspiciously, and I kept wondering how I could be most useful. Aside from taking photos and installing the screen windows, my main contribution was this slatted floor, which we ended up not using. At least I provided snacks and moral support.

At this juncture it’s worth noting a key difference between my husband and I. With me in charge, I would have read four books on chicken rearing without ever picking up a hammer. Our chicken coop would have remained a phantom in my imagination. With Mike at the helm, within 48 hours we had a reclaimed redwood chicken coop to make the girls proud. Of course, we still don’t know the first thing about raising chickens.

(After spending a couple hours reading chicken-lit yesterday evening, I’m hip to the fact backyard chicken farmers call their brood “the girls.”)

So now we face a conundrum. Our local garden supply store offers a class on raising backyard chickens in June, very useful but three long months away. I also found a woman in our town who sells chicks for suburbanites posturing as homesteaders, soon to be ourselves. She has three chicks ready for a new home for $6 apiece. What do you think: Wait? Take the plunge? Seriously, I need some advice here.

Should you likewise catch spring chicken fever, here are some resources to get you started: