Interview: Chick-A-Pen-Parish’s Jacob

About a year ago, my sister married Jacob, who I still call “my sister’s husband” because “brother-in-law” just sounds too funny to me.  I’m not used to having a brother anything.  Now, he’s gone and knocked her up, which means I will now refer to him as my “sister’s baby daddy”.  I don’t think I can get used to having a nephew, so I will call da bahbeh “my sister’s baby”.  I’ve been calling him Hey-sus since he will be born in late December, though I hear that Shadrack is in the running.  I’ll call him Baby Shadrack, but will not be tempted to call him BS for short because that’s just mean and I’m very happy to have little Baby Bang-Knudsen join us! 

The point is that they recently built a fabulous chicken coop in their backyard on Bainbridge Island, WA.  Because it’s way cool and I’m very curious about all of it, I thought this would be a great piece for my first interview blog!  So, I’ve asked Jacob, head of the Chick-A-Pen-Parish and my sister’s baby daddy, to answer a few questions.  Here is what transpired… 

What is your name?  Jacob Van Helsing
Where do you live?  On an Island.  That isn’t a reference to, “No man is an Island”
Tell us about yourself.  I am a 4th generation vampire slayer.  Not the traditional Twilight vampire, but the mosquitos variety.  I have zero tolerance for them. 
What is your Spirit Animal?  Platypus, or a Flying Platypus. Those are more rare.
What is your death row meal?  Probably Shrimp Scampi from Red Lobster or Red Lobster from House of Scampi.
Name your top three items in your “Bucket List”.   1. Fire a laser pistol  2.  Become a black belt in verbal Judo  3.  Watch the Bucket List staring Morgan Freeman and Jack Whatshecalled.
Can you draw a representation of what you picture yourself as? 

Jacob's vision (
Jacob’s vision (

What inspired you to get chickens, much less keep them in your back yard?  I have been inspired by the locovore movement and thought there is no better way to know what goes in to your food than to feed them yourself.  Plus, they are great at weeding.
How long have you had chickens?  We got our chicks in April.
Who built your coop?  My friend and worst enemy Mead Trick.  I helped when I could, but I am a highly unskilled craftsman.  I painted and lifted things.  My wife Enid made the curtains and made it really nice for the ladies. 

Enid's work

Enid's work


What was that process like?  Emotional.  Trying.  Cloudy (both in a physical and a proverbial way)
What was the hardest part of getting the coop built and ready?  Forging the nails and milling the lumber…  Just kidding.  [editor’s note: oh, now he’s just kidding?] I think the hardest part was finding the recycled materials for the coop and making them all fit.  Over 90% of the materials were recycled/reclaimed and when you are trying to make precise cuts and fittings it isn’t easy.
What was the most fun part?  Talking to all the chicken heads (what we in the industry affectionately call all of the chicken admirers) during the Tour de Coop.

This ain't no 4-H project.

This ain't no 4-H project.


How many chickens/roosters/hens do you have?  We have 8 hens.  We didn’t end up with any roosters which is nice.
Can you explain what the difference is to my city friends?  Well this country bumpkin would love to explain the difference.  A Rooster is a male, is made for fighting, and will fertilize all the ladies if you’re not careful, thus making no eggs for eating, but rather eggs for chicks.  A Hen is a lady, likes real housewives, gossips non-stop, and lays eggs for eating… unless old Mr. Rooster gets at her.
What is the hardest part of keeping the chickens?  Picking up a tiny dinosaur.
What is the most fun part?  Owning a tiny dinosaur!  And they are just really fun to watch.

So this is what it's like to own a dinosaur...

So this is what it's like to own a dinosaur...

How many eggs do you get a week? Currently we get two a day.  We originally bought 6 chicks and then got 2 adults from a friend who had to give them up because of Home Owner Association restrictions.  The two adults are producing each day and the other six are about a month away.
What the hell do you do with all of those eggs?   Out here in the sticks eggs are like gold (golden eggs?)  We barter for pelts and Wampum.  We also eat them from time to time.  People will do just about anything to get fresh eggs.
Do you have before and after cholesterol scores?  No, but both of our SAT scores raised by 25 points.  This was a nice surprise. 
How does Dolly feel about them?  Dolly loves them…  Loves chasing them.  You’ve never seen a 150lb. Newfoundland look so fast and agile as when she chases them around the coop. 


Mel, Jake, and the new chicken coop

Mel, Jake, and the new chicken coop


Thanks, Jake!  We have a joke in our family and the punchline is “ha, ha, joke’s on you…you married him.”  I think that applies here quite nicely!  Just kidding, we love Jake and I appreciate his creative candor for blog interviews, his love for my sister, and the excitement he brings to my family at the holidays…especially this one with the buh-bay!  Someone had to give my parents a grandbaby and it certainly wasn’t going to be me first! 

If you want more photos of the awesome chicken coop and chickens, check out their website.  And here is some press from the 2010  Tour de Coop on Bainbridge Island.  It will make you wish you lived on a nice plot of land and want to grow your own chickens.

  1. #1 by Aaron on August 10, 2010 - 6:10 pm

    That was quite delightful to read at the end of the workday, well done Megan and of course Jakob.
    Shout-outs to the Mrs. Bang-Knudson as well.

  2. #2 by Matt on August 11, 2010 - 2:34 am

    Both sides of my family kind of have the same joke… and then my wife went and got a plaque for one of her sisters that reads “I smile because you are my sister. I laugh because there is nothing you can do about it.”

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