Keeping chickens is something I’ve been debating in my mind for over a year. I admit I have been a successful vegetable gardener since I’ve owned a home and thought adding some chicken poop to my organic compost piles just seemed like the best next thing to do. Changing the way I think about food began about four years ago when I saw a movie called Food Inc. It was a documentary illustrating industrial agriculture in America. While corporations are making money with their method of consumerism business, the food chain is becoming contaminated with bacteria, animals are not allowed to act like they should, and the quality of the food chain dwindles. One part in the movie specifically got my attention. Chickens by the thousands were crammed into cages and forced to lay egg after egg, never seeing the outdoors, or just to be chickens. There were outbreaks of disease. Antibiotics were given to the animals on a daily basis. If you are intrigued by the American food chain, I recommend Food Inc.
Over the next few years I read a book by Barbara Kingslover called Animal, Vegetable and Mineral. It illustrated how her family decided to eat only what they could grow in one year. It was good insight on how easy growing food could be. I then read a book by Michael Pollan, Omnivores Dilemma. This book followed the food chain all the way to his table. In his case, it was a steer that he researched. It’s interesting how our food chain is complex and his insight on eating local every chance he got opened my eyes to think about what goes I to my body. It made me make a conscious decision never to eat McDonalds ever again. They bleach their meat people! How can that even be allowed?
So back to keeping chickens. I love eggs and eat about 6 a week. If I got a few chicks I had a fresh alternative to my egg habit. Plus I knew eggsactly where they were laid.
I knew I would have some obstacles once I committed to be a chicken owner. It was against city code to keep chickens. I read tons of articles, blogs and city ordinances, then I decided to be an outlaw. In my city, a suburb of San Francisco, would the police really take the time to investigate a rogue citizen keeping chickens for eggs? Probably not. I cleared it with my neighbors and began building my coop. The website BackyardChickens.com has been a huge help.
It seemed the more people I shared what I was planning on doing, more people had kept chickens in the past. Of course Uncle Sam advised during the 1940s for every family to keep chickens. It was economical! And fun!
I learned that my neighbor around the corner hatches chicks regularly and had a fresh batch she was giving away! Perfect timing! I met her and arranged to pick them up after a planned trip.
If you have ever seen a day old chick, you already know they are absolutely irresistable. I told her I would take at least 4!
The next couple weeks I began building the coop. I’m a visual type of learner so I visualized how I wanted it to be and built it that way. With the help of seeing how other coops were made on
Http://BackyardChickens.com I surprised myself and built a sturdy, roomy and safe haven for my new additions!
It wasn’t difficult really, I dreamt it…and I made it happen! I repurposed our doghouse to keep the chicks cozy at nighttime.
I am the happy owner of 2 silkies, and 2 unknown breeds. The naked neck is the leader and the black one is the scaredy cat. The silkies are bullies only when fresh worms are involved!
It’s only been a week so I’m getting used to them and they are getting used to me too. As for my 2 dogs and how they are reacting, they are actually non-reacting. Strangely they are completely staying away from that area of the yard. Fine by me of course!
I hope you enjoy my stories of cooking, gardening, knitting and now chicken-ing!
Stay tuned for more updates!