Mike Graham thought his wife Nicole was joking seven years ago when she said she wanted to raise chickens. But not long after, Nicole brought home five chicks and, by herself, assembled a hot pink chicken coop in the backyard. It didn’t take long for Mike, Nicole and their 10-year-old daughter Haylie to all fall in love with the chickens and the farm-to-table habit that comes with owning them.
About three years into raising their own chickens, Mike and Nicole hatched the idea for a family business, The Garden Hen. The Garden Hen is dedicated to educating and assisting with all aspects of raising city and suburban chickens. Among the services they offer are design, construction and cleaning of chicken coops, selling farm-fresh eggs and egg incubation. They also conduct educational hatching projects in several local schools.
Last week, My Table visited one of the coops the couple built in The Heights and asked the Grahams five nosy questions about The Garden Hen and what life is like in their nest.
Nicole: I wanted to have a greater appreciation for where my eggs come from.
What are some common misconceptions about chickens?
Mike: I’ve noticed that people think chickens are dirty and smelly. But, truthfully, my dogs are a lot more intrusive than our chickens with the smells that come from them. People also think they’re noisy, but only roosters crow. Female chickens barely make any noise.
Nicole: Most chickens are actually very loving and intelligent, and they want your attention just like a dog or a cat. They make great pets.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job?
Nicole: I love everything I do, but my favorite part is education.
Mike: My favorite part is also education, but something I don’t like is that right now we have to charge schools for the education.
Please tell us about your goals for the future.
Mike: We want to increase the scope of our education program by going to more inner-city schools, so we’re currently looking for a sponsor to fund that. We want to be more available for any families who want our services. We’re also currently planning a chicken-coop line to sell online and working on more projects that we are excited about launching soon.
And because we are a food publication and have to ask: What are your favorite Houston restaurants?
Mike: Uchi, Underbelly, Moon Tower, Tampico and Barbecue Inn are just a few.
The Garden Hen, 832-722-2249, the-garden-hen.com