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?”
“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:
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:
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?