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Chicken coop brings excitement to Villeneuve seniors

Four new feathered guests have created a buzz at the residence.
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Gordon Perrott checks the new chicken coop for eggs at the West Country Hearth seniors residence in Villeneuve on June 5. CLAUDIA STEELE/St. Albert Gazette

A chicken coop donated to the West Country Hearth senior’s home in Villeneuve is bringing excitement and eggs to the seniors who live there.

When Donna Sheehan, daughter of one of the residents, received a chicken coop from her kids, she never thought it would go this far, but after a chat with her sister, who suggested she pass on the coop to the seniors, the wheels were set in motion.

"I got thinking about it, and she (my sister) said, 'But Donna, can't you just see all those seniors with chickens?' and I went 'You know what I can!' Because a lot of them came from farming backgrounds," Sheehan said.

Sheehan started calling some of the families of other residents she knew. Sheehan and three other families came together to make this happen as an early Father’s Day gift. After getting permission from West Country Hearth, they purchased the coop and four chickens.

Sheehan says that with COVID-19 and the warming weather, they hoped this would give the seniors a bigger reason to venture outside with the added purpose of checking in on the hens.

Annette Borle, the administrator at West Country Hearth, said the families even named the chickens. "For the four residents that live here and whose families donated it, they are named after the residents' deceased spouses. So we have a Lucy, a Jackie, a Louise, and a Melvina," Borle said.

These four new feathered guests have created a buzz at the seniors' residence. Borle said the seniors look forward to seeing the hens and constantly report on the number of eggs laid each day. Although the facility can't use the eggs in their own kitchen due to public-health guidelines, Borle said one resident has been collecting some, and those who cook their own breakfasts in their own kitchens can make use of them.

Evelyn Boddez, one of the residents whose family also donated to the coop and chickens, raised chickens and turkeys when she lived on a farm. She said that although having hens around is not new for her, it sure has been nice. "I think it's a conversation piece. They go for a walk, and they stop and take a look, and they know every day they can go see them," said Boddez.

Gorden Perrott, a resident and Sheehan's father, is no stranger to chickens as he, much like Boddez and many of the other residents, is a farmer. He agreed that everyone is enjoying going out to the coop to see the hens. "There is a bench right in front of it so, they sit down and watch them peck around," Perrott said.

For Borle and Sheehan, there is an absolute joy in the smiles and glee these four little hens have brought to the residents and all the chatter it has raised. "You know it's interesting, now every day when I talk to my dad, I say, 'So, how are the hens?' 'Well, they laid three eggs today,' he says, and it's just something they have to talk about," Sheehan said.