This afternoon I was sitting at my computer doing work and listening to music, when my iTunes player unexpectedly cycled to the KRCL webcast. Suddenly the air was filled with radio waves beaming from Salt Lake City all the way across the great Nevada desert and into my little house in the Central Valley of California. Or something like that.
It turned out to be a friendly “hello” from the motherland, because this particular hour on RadioActive, they happened to be talking about one of my favorite subjects-urban chickens! Brit Merrill and Celia Bell (both hailing from WCG) were two of the special guests, with a whole bevy of chicken-crazed callers. Questions included such knuckle-biters as:
How can I get my chickens to lay more eggs in the winter?
What are my city ordinances for keeping poultry?
If I can’t bring myself to kill my chickens, how long do I have to live with them?
Personally, I would have liked to hear some good recipes for 15-egg meals, which have become a real need around here, ever since our two backyard hens decided to hunker down for the spring and get layin’. One of them has determined that a planter-box of succulents is the perfect spot for this; now she rarely moves from her little nest, blending in craftily with the speckled foliage.
In a way, cities and suburbs are the ideal location for raising a few hens. Few predators and an enclosed yard make it relatively easy. Our bantams spend their days ambling around the yard, squawking at the cats and leaving large poops by the back door. That last activity is their least endearing.
Apparently my roommate Jess has also trained the chickens to fly onto her arm, a fact that would have been nice to know the time I approached one of them and it flew straight at my face. Not attacking, perhaps? Just looking for a place on which to alight? The chickens and I have since reached an understanding.
If you can live with the inconveniences, the benefits are fantastic: fresh eggs, interesting pets, free fertilizer, and one step closer to an honest life on the land.
Wasatch Community Gardens and Lifelong Learning both have some excellent classes coming up on how to raise your own brood. Then there’s the ever-popular Tour de Coops at the end of June.