Wednesday, November 10, 2010

City Chickens

A new trend has come to suburbia. "I can't get our chickens to lay in the nests," explains a friend new to the chicken business.

Several years ago I was invited to the home of a friend who had always lived in town then moved to the country. Next to the house was a chicken coop with a variety of the birds poking around. Each chicken had a name. These hens were like family pets. Town people raising chickens.

Chickens. Now I'm no authority. At our house chickens lived in a coop out near the barn. Living across the yard from them makes me a bit knowledgeable.

Chicken coops: Dirty, smelly, full of wanna-be mothers sitting on eggs that will never hatch. When this trend started a few years ago, I was confused. Cost of building a coop, fencing around coop, chicken feed, cost of chickens = a couple of eggs a day. Hm. Organic? Yes. Fresh eggs every day? Yes. Worth it? Not in my estimation. As a child, I had enough of those beaks try to catch me when I walked up to a nest. I tip-toed through the chicken yard enough to know that my shoes would be a mess by the time I walked back through that gate. The smell chicken farms permeates the air....not in a good way. Oh, give me my eggs from the local grocery.

"We decided to raise chickens," the mother of Gabby's friend informed me. "We're building a fenced in area for them."

Immediately, my mind is drawn to the layout of their backyard in an urban neighborhood. A fenced in area would take up about a fourth of the yard. A garden was taking up a bit more. Play space for the children was dwindling. Did she know that they needed a coop? Did she know that these beaked demons needed to be in a covered yard? Did she know that nighttime critters would seek out the birds and/or their eggs?

"The chickens keep getting out," she later informed me. Hm, evidently she didn't know.

Many people are fighting for the right to have chickens in their urban yards. In Key West, the chickens just roam the streets. I wonder if soon chickens will do the same here. Another hm.

I wonder who watches these chickens when these families go on vacation. I can just imagine my response if my daughter asked me. I am done with chickens. The best chicken on the farm was that one frying up for dinner after church on Sunday mornings.

City chickens.

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