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Nashville Foxes Open Their Henhouse

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Buffy, the Frizzled Cochin

Buffy, Nancy, Colin, Wally and Kiss are all roommates living a short distance from the halls of Vanderbilt.  These petite beauties are pampered and adored, sharing their house in the backyard of the Carrington Fox family home.  The bantams compete for attention with a pet rabbit and a salamander.  The Fox family boys got to name the hens, and they also help care for them.

“It’s just about the happiest thing that our family has ever done,” shared Fox when she allowed me a tour of her private garden and cloistered coop.  We discover one egg in the straw of the nesting box, although the coop does not include artificial lighting to boost winter laying.  Yes, the Nashville Foxes have opened a henhouse!

Colin, the Black Frizzled Cochin

The family’s Whitland neighborhood, close to the Vandy campus and Hillsboro, is one of several included in the new Nashville ordinance allowing backyard hens.  Her three sons took a break from potting plants to proudly showed off the hens.  They included a barred cochin and a frizzled cochin.  They’re learning the importance of fresh water, green grazing and grain for their pets.  The rabbit’s waste goes into the compost along with family food scraps, and the boys dig worms from the worked-over soil of the chicken pen to feed their salamander.  The chickens’ compost area becomes a rich resource for the family garden.

boys with backyard hens
Buffy, the Frizzled Cochin and Nancy, the Barred Cochin

Hen keeping is not the first attempt at small-scale urban farming for this family.  In 2009, Fox, an award-winning food critic with the Nashville Scene, wrote a series about her gardening efforts.  She pondered the implications of homegrown food and sustainable farming methods, with the blessing of her husband whom she boasts is the main cook of the household.  Later this month, Fox writes about hens for Her Nashville magazine.

Fox tells the stories of her family’s experiences from the heart, sharing enthusiasm about what this latest project has taught her sons, “I think it has connected them with the source of their food in a way that I never expected would happen.”  Omelet making is an activity not taken for granted.  A typical family outing might now be a visit to a poultry farm.  She’s also helped form a network of women, called the Hen Chicks, who hold potlucks with egg dishes and share information about poultry care.

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