HOT CHICKS IN THE CITY

All this talk about sustainable agriculture and local food reminded me of the eggs we used to get from some friends with a small hunk of land in farm country up north of here.  They were shockingly different from grocery store eggs—the shells sported a variety of colors, and the yolks had a vibrant yellow hue I’d never seen inside an egg before. 

And then I remembered that our neighbors just two doors over had backyard chickens awhile back.  Two.  They named them “Original Recipe” and “Extra Crispy.”  It was a joke—they didn’t intend to eat them.  Well, whether they intended to or not, they didn’t get a chance, because another neighbor’s dogs ate them first. 

“We could keep chickens,” I told my husband.

“I’m not cleaning the pen,” he replied.

“Just two or three hens would give us plenty of eggs,” I said.

“YOU are cleaning the pen,” he insisted.

What’s his problem, anyway?

I broached the subject with the kids.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to have chickens in the back yard?” I asked them.

“I’m not feeding them,” Tigger announced, “but I’ll collect the eggs.”

“Little Bit, don’t you think it would be neat to have chickens, and go out and get their eggs every day?”  I smiled encouragingly.

She cast her most baleful gaze upon me.

“Can we get a goat instead?”  Tigger suggested.

“A GOAT?  Will you milk it?”

“Sure!”

“You won’t feed the chickens but you’ll milk the goat?”  I eyed her skeptically.

“Well, we can get a boy goat!” She solved THAT problem.

Apparently, urban chickens are a big business these days.  Seattle Tilth runs chicken classes (as in how to manage them, not classes for chickens).  A quick search turned up multiple purveyors of pre-made chicken coops.  I like this one:

The Eglu!

Or,

Here’s the Henspa.

For the high-falutin’ chicken, you can get:
The Hen Gazebo!

This hard-hitting report from the Christian Science Monitor describes an alarming increase in scofflaws who keep chickens in violation of local ordinances.  The illicit urban chicken movement benefits from this:


The Stealth Hen Condo!  It looks like a trash can, so no one will suspect what fowl creatures lurk within.

Although the city of Seattle allows up to three chickens per standard lot, I’m not sure if the ‘burb next door where we live follows suit.  A family around the corner used to have a rooster.  That seems inappropriate.  Noisy little buggers.  (Contrary to popular myth, hens will quite happily lay eggs in the absence of male instigation.)

But I don’t know.  Should I get chickens?

 

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31 thoughts on “HOT CHICKS IN THE CITY

  1.  cute coops…when my ex wife insisted on getting the cat count to 14…and yes i still have the cats , and the ex hanging around….i told her okay , but you feed them and change the liter very time you turn around..so i can see where the fam gets their attitude…but i agree with you…altho it can be expensive at first..good eggs are almost 2.50 a dozen…i think you should….

  2. YES!!  I’ve been talking about urban chickens for MONTHS now!  Months!  I checked out some coops during the hurricane while I was at the farm outpost buying the generator, and they’re totally backyard-able.  A goat that can be milked is a GREAT idea, too, because then you’d have milk and eggs AND cheese and potentially, something to pull the goat-cart!  I’m absolutely in the market for a goat.  Ponies are way too big and messy for a backyard.  If only I didn’t have to go back to work and get a real job, I would have tons and tons of time to nurture my urban chickens and my milk goat.

  3. I love those chicken coops.  Yes, get chickens.  I’m thinking of getting some myself.  Lots of my friends have chickens, and one neighbor had a rooster, although I think people made them get rid of him.  I haven’t heard him crowing in a while. Apparently, you can order chickens through the mail.

  4. You know how I’m going to react. What a bunch of yuppiness! Great post, you’ve certainly done your research, and I think it’s a fine idea but seriously folks, how many personality transplants will it take to bring egg raising to suburbia as something more than fashionable trendiness? The first time the kids realize that eggs come out of “back there”, and/or there’s the first trace of poop on the shell, the end of the backyard chicken is near. Pun intended. But if you want some baby Partridge Rocks come summer, I can fix ya up.

  5. Go for it.  If I could figure out a way to do it on my open corner suburban lot, I would in a heartbeat, ordinances be damned (although I don’t think we have one either way).  We go through a lot of eggs around here and I know I have friends who would more than happily take any extras off my hands.  And since you’re talking about sustainable living anyway, if you plant a garden and let the chickens loose in it, they will provide organic fertilizer and bug control on top of delicious eggs.  Can’t beat that!

  6. I don’t think you should but that’s just me.  It’s easier just to go to the store and get themmy mom once applied for a job as an older worker and they wanted her to sign a contract at KFC that she would not devulge the secret recipe and she couldn’t sign it because you know how older folks take things so literally -she was afraid someone would get her drunk and get the secret out of her.lolI like the examples of cages you put up but if you want a chick or two go ahead but why? is it a romantic, relaxing idea for you or what?

  7. There is a wonderful old kid’s book about a dog, a chicken and a man, called Along Came a Dog. I think it was written by Margurite Dejong. I’ll look it it up. It won all kind of awards when it came out, but to be honest, I think I was a kid when I read it. I found it again not too long ago. It’s a nice story, but it was probably the first kids’ book I ever read that was not sentimental about men, dogs or chickens. It will give you some insights about group behavior among chickens, all of which is not delightful.If you plan to eat your chickens, you need to go watch someone kill one before you share that experience with your kids. Although–cold-hearted creature that I was, when I was a kid I thought it was funny. What can I say? All of my friends were farm kids. 

  8. I absolutely LOVE chickens.   We had them at home when i was a kid and I used to love to go in the chicken house and listen to them when they went in for the night.   The lovely sort of cooing sound they make when they are sleepy was so beautiful to me.    We raised them for eggs and also for the meat.    After my parents retired, they moved to the country and got chickens again.   My dad and I both loved them.   Yes, by all means get the chickens.   Maybe only one rooster and about 6 hens should keep you in eggs very well.    And later on if you want to hatch a few eggs, your kids can see how wonderful that miracle is.    No fancy coops are necessary, but these are cute.

  9. As you know, the folks next door keep two goats and their backyard which make wonderful neighbors.  They are very well mannered and occasionally MMMMMAAAAAAAA at mealtime but are otherwise very quiet.   I’d much rather have the goats than the next door monster children from the last house.  I vote goats over chickens or monster children any day.

  10. For sure, get ’em. Just make sure TechnoGeek does some cleaning too. And don’t let the kids milk them (it won’t work and they may be injured – don’t ask me how I know). My uncle used to have two roosters – Don Juan and Joe Lewis. Trust me when I say you don’t want to enter a hen house with a rooster named Joe Lewis.

  11.    I think a small flock of chickens would be nice & low numbers easier to care for. Cleveland recently changed their laws to allow people to keep a few in their backyards. Many folks were already doing it, anyways.   There’s something very domestic about having hens pecking around a house. Must be my ancestral echoes.

  12. Cute Eglu!  I like the gazebo, too, though.I wouldn’t get chickens, but that’s because I’m maxed out on taking care of living things and cleaning up their poop.  If you feel like you need more of that in your life, though, go for it. 

  13. I love the sound of a rooster crowing! Down the street from me a man raises turkey’s. City doesn’t know it though. No eggs for breakfast but a holiday meal or two. I remember Grandma’s brown eggs. To this day my mom thinks they taste different, I think she’s nuts.

  14. Back door neighbors had an illegal chicken coop a couple of years back.  NOISY!  Roosters crowing at the break of dawn is true, but they don’t restrict themselves in that regard.

  15. Free range chickens are a great idea in theory.  Until you realise that you are spending far more in chicken feed than you ever could on eggs.  Plus, hate to tell you this, but chicken poop really STINKS of ammonia.

  16. i don’t know why, but i am surprised that the city of Seattle allows chickens within city limits. they just seem messy to me. all those droppings and feathers. i’ll just gladly buy my free range eggs from the grocery store or farmer’s market, when i can find them there. 

  17. My husband is always trying to get into chickens…the idea of having fresh, organic eggs appeals to me, but not the gathering of said eggs or cleaning up of poop.  If we still lived in Nebraska (moved to Wyoming) I might use the poop for fertilizer, but here in the mountains, gardens are a specialty that I can’t afford and don’t have time for.

  18. YES!!!!  A coworker of mine is considering getting chickens (like, 20 chickens – but he lives in the boonies, so doesn’t have to worry about ordinances) and I am SO hoping he does, because I’d love to have a source of fresh eggs.Of course, you notice I’m not actually willing to get chickens myself… but I think it’s a great idea for other people!    Actually, I’m pretty sure my neighbor’s unconfined rotten obnoxious dogs would eat any chickens I tried to keep.

  19. Yes, dear lord, yes.Get the chickens. Get them the cool mod-like henhouse at the top and enjoy their eggs.Be forewarned, though, It takes a few months for a baby chicken to mature into a big chicken capable of laying eggs. AND you have to get a hen run, not a straight run of chicks because in a straight run, if you get six, five could accidentally be roosters. That’s a bother.It’s a little bit more expensive for an all-hen or all-rooster run, but it’s worth it in the end.These eggs? They’re delicious.(And no, we do not EAT our chickens. Just their eggs. All the hens have names, to inspire non-eating thoughts.)

  20. Oh, and the poop issue? Just don’t park your car under a tree and you’re good. Chicken shit is awfully hard to get off of cars.As for the rest of it, just let them have an area where they can run and scratch and shit ’till they turn gold.And they CAN fly.And they’ll eat anything you throw at them, including chicken. It’s like having a SUPER FAST compost pile. Even better for the green-minded 🙂

  21. My nephews showed chickens yesterday at a livestock show.  Apparently, they have to stand around for hours with the chickens, and when the judges pass by, you must hold them upside down so the judges can feel up their breasts (numerous times) and pray that they don’t throw up while you’re doing so.  They had the good sense to keep their chickens in the backyard at the local high school, though.

  22. rabbit meat is very tasty, low in fat and cholesterol, and I thought about raising them for meat. If your kids think that having a bit of poop on an egg is bad, imagine how nuts they’d go when it is time to ‘harvest’ the rabbits. Probably traumatize the little darlings. Chickens are noisy and smelly and some neighbor would complain around here in a heartbeat. Rabbits however, don’t make a sound. yeah, that sounds pretty bad, but you started it with your urban chicken scenario. 

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