Friday, March 6, 2009

Urban Chicken Fantasy - Revisited

I have a chicken fantasy. I've admitted it on here before. I have the desire to join the ranks of poultry-lovers who can call themselves urban chicken owners. I get that it might not be the best choice for our family… but still I find myself constantly revisiting chicken ownership.

When I know no one is looking I troll the backyard chicken blogs and read about others who have taken the plunge. I even joined a backyard chicken forum. I research how to build chicken tractors. I read up on how to raise chickens. I've read about breeds and oogle over pictures of chicks and colored eggs. I have two chicken care books from amazon that will be arriving at my house today. I will even admit to buying my first issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine at the Tractor Supply Store the other day. What has my life become?

Sunday morning at breakfast I was flipping through the magazine at the table while Farmer B ate his breakfast and read the newspaper. He peered over the paper and I saw him glaring at the pages of my magazine. It does NOT look like Cosmo, although there was a naked chick on the cover.

"No you didn't," he said.

I just stared at him. I wasn't ready to admit to this purchase.

"Is that a freaking chicken magazine?" he asked.

Well the cat's out of the bag, isn't it?

I am so on the fence about this. I'm already that weird friend who cloth diapered her kids, who makes her own household cleaners, who uses canvas grocery bags and who dug up a huge spot in her backyard to make a garden. Wouldn't my friends just love it if I became a crazy chicken lady too?

I don't need chickens, but I think I want them. We can have them in this part of town, but our homeowner's association says no chickens. Horses are fine though. A 6-foot high pile of horse poo in your yard is fine, but a chicken coop is not. We have a privacy fence and close to 2 acres so I'm convinced we could pull off some covert chickens, especially since we pulled off raising 6 covert ducks for about 3 years.

I wish I could find a chicken mentor. You can troll the chicken blogs and chicken forums until your fingers ache, but you still can't know if it's right for you. I don't know how much work they take. I don't know how noisy they are. Honestly I fear that I'd get the chickens and then 2 months later (or 5 years later) I'd be dreading another trip to the chicken coop to feed and water them. Chickens can live as long as dogs - am I ready for that sort of commitment? Maybe I'd love it.

I already have covert urban chicken guilt and I haven't even purchased the damn birds yet.

Are there any backyard chicken owners out there who want to weigh in on this? Should I pass on this fantasy? Or should I pick up the three chicks that will be waiting for me at the local feed store in the first week in April?


Kathryn said...

Good morning, Kate. Have you read my blog on the great chicken victory in Gulfport? Please take a look. Quit fretting and go for it, I say! Although I can't remember where it was, I found chicken coops that were made to look like other things you might have around your home like trash cans and things. Very clandestine! Love your blog, and it's good to know you are sort of a neighbor. Have a wonderful day. K (aka Mad Beach Maven)

Worknprogress said...

Oh boy! Covert chicken operations?!? Depending on the reprocussions of your HOA (as long as they won't fine you eroneous amounts of $$$ or kick you to the curb), i would say chickens are totally worth it.

We took the plunge last year. It has been a hassle at times, but as long as your hubbie and kids are all willing partners (i.e. when you have such "a day" and just can't make it out to the coop, their will be someone to cover your chores for you), i'd say you'll never regret it.

As long as you realise there will be ups and downs along the way, you will no doubt find that the freshest eggs in the known universe at your breakfast table are totally worth the work. Especially when you are out gardening this summer and the Ladies join you for a little spell.

if you are interested in a little more first handed info, you can email me and i would be happy to share a little of our chicken adventure through our blog with you.

Good luck deciding!

Worknprogress said...

oh, and i forgot to leave in my previous post--if you can find a copy of the March/April Hobby Farms issue, they've got a decent article to feed your chicken knowledge about composting their manure. That would help with your garden (and prevent any more wet weather horse poo flingin'!) :o)

Kate and Crew said...

Hi Kathryn - I'm off to read about the great chicken victory now! LOL.

Worknprogress - I went to your blog, but can't find a way to email you. I do have a bunch of questions for you, if you're up for it. Can you email me? My addy is on my blog column on the right.

Dani said...

We have six stealth chickens in our urban backyard, and they are just the greatest!

Good luck!

Thomas Kriese said...

You already know I'm a huge fan of urban chickens and you can count me as a solid "YES" in your tally of votes.

Do it! (and blog about it)

badgerpendous said...


We just started keeping our own urban chickens this January. Bought them in mid-Jan as wee little puffballs.

I built a coop and we just moved them in a week or so ago.

While we haven't gotten any eggs yet (Hoping for a 4th of July scrambled egg breakfast...), we're really loving it so far.

The kids really like to help out with the chores (maybe because we haven't told them they're "chores"...) and the chickens are incredibly docile.

Best of luck!

homeschool mamma said...

fresh eggs and delicious omelets. Chickens are not much work at all. I love my birds. Visit my blog

CJ said...

HI! I found your blog looking for info on mason bees. Where I live (right next to Sunset headquarters) chickens are legal. I found out, went crazy and got 4 chicks last year. I'm expanding now to 7 chickens because with a family of 5 we can eat a lot of really, really, amazingly good eggs.

And the chickens are FUN! They will hop to grab grapes from between your fingers. They cluck at you and when you start with chicks the chicks are the cutest little fuzzballs.

Oh and my 10 year old has as part of his chores to deal with the chickens in the afternoon. :) I have to check them myself but in general he has been awesome.

Erin said...

Love it! It's like looking in the mirror, lol! We, too are planning "stealth chickens" later this summer. I grew up on a farm and can't wait to show my kids how rewarding it is! In my suburb (and most everywhere in my state) they are illegal, but I have a large lot in an area where most people would not mind, and plan on keeping their mouths shut with fresh eggs! I also found out that the citation for such a violation of the law here is equal to not picking up your my fear was abated a bit! I would definitely check with your neighbors, because HOA can be very hard-core...that's why I refuse to live in one! Good Luck to you and I love your blog!

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