Monday, May 16, 2005


We now have seven chickens, including two chicks. Chickens - 06

You should have chickens, too! We feed them organic mash and various kitchen scraps. They live in a coop on the lawn. In return, they fertilize the lawn, give us lots of additional fertilizer to put on the compost heap, and they give us the most amazing eggs. Fresh-laid eggs are nothing like what you buy in the store, even if you buy the "organic free-range" eggs.

The kids love them, and take them out and play with them almost every day. Some people will tell you that chickens are not social with humans and shouldn't be handled, but our experience has been otherwise. Our most productive chicken, Opal, is always being dragged around the yard in the arms of one of our kids. Opal now comes to the end of the coop when you walk up, hoping to be let out. Our dog Alaska, however, would like to voice an objection--he wants to come out and play, too!
Chickens - 24
"Please! Just one little chicken!"
Alaska has tasted chicken in the past, so we have to be careful to keep him away from the chickens when they're out. He barks and barks, and sometimes gets so excited that he pees on the carpet...

Oh, and the chicks are extremely cute:
Chickens - 13

Some cities are getting progressive about chickens. For example, in Seattle, you can keep three chickens no matter how much land you have, and more land allows you to have more chickens. Sadly, in most municipalities, chickens are considered "livestock" and have draconian setback requirements. When we lived in San Diego, our neighbor snitched on us, and the city inspector came out. We had previously let them roam free on our slope, but after the inspector came, we had to keep them in the coop, because they had to be 50 feet from any dwelling. Rules like that make it almost impossible to keep chickens in a city.

There are lots of ways of keeping chickens and not having them be smelly. One is the coop you see here (which we got from Henspa). Pull down the handle on the back and wheels come down, and you can roll it around the yard. Our lawn is still kind of sparse, but in the areas where the coop has been, it's coming in really thick and green. (I did fertilize the rest of it with organic this-and-that about a month ago, but it's not nearly as effective as hosting chickens). You can also build a stationary coop and keep piling on straw bedding. As long as you can manage to keep it dry, it won't smell bad. After a year, you take out the bedding and compost it. The garden center next door to us has a coop managed like that, and it doesn't stink at all.