Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Urban Chickens to be legal in Durham, NC?

The Independent Weekly is at it again, this time reporting on the groundswell of support in Durham, NC to relax the codes so as to allow backyard flocks.

As of press time, more than 400 signatures have been collected to submit to the Durham City Council. Kavanah Ramsier, the petition organizer, is aiming for 1000 signatures to get the agenda item of backyard flocks put on the city planning commission's agenda.
Ramsier says the petition was an outgrowth of her work as coordinator for the Durham Inner-City Gardeners (DIG) program, which teaches leadership and life skills to Durham high schoolers through organic gardening. DIG is part of the South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces (SEEDS), a nonprofit community garden and educational organization. Although the petition drive is independent, Ramsier says the idea sprouted in the garden.

"So many people have come to our garden and mentioned that they used to have chickens, they'd like chickens or they have chickens despite the prohibition," Ramsier says.

It seems in Durham, as elsewhere, there's the stereotype that flocks smell bad and that's why they should be kept out of an urban setting. I agree with Ramsier's assertion that a small coop, if kept clean, doesn't smell bad at all. And, given how easy it is to clean an Eglu, there's no excuse NOT to have a tidy coop.

In fact, come to think of it, some of Argus's "backyard logs" have reeked more than our coop ever has. And there's a certain dog house around the corner that I swear has never been cleaned up after, given the odor that lingers day in and day out.

Here's hoping Ramsier's successful in Durham in conjunction with the effort in Chapel Hill.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fowl on the Amazing Race: no chicken, no check in!

We finally got around to watching episode four of the Amazing Race 12 last night (thanks to the power of the DVR) and I was pleasantly surprised to see chickens with a starring role in this episode of the Race.

For those of you not following along this season's race around the world, the teams are currently in Burkina Faso competing to win this leg of the race. One of their challenges was to accept a gift from Dakissaga, the tribal chief of the village they started from.

His gift? A live chicken (and a scrawny one at that). The string attached to the gift? The teams had to carry the chicken with them in a loose-mesh woven bag throughout the challenges all the way to the check in at the end of the leg of the race. No chicken? no check in! (clever phrasing!)

So, the chickens were with the teams throughout the race.

Yes, it was amusing to watch the teams try to catch the chickens in the pen to put them in their bags. Only a couple teams did the "grab with two hands holding the wings in" approach whereas others tried to catch the chickens as if the mesh bag were a net and the chicken were a butterfly. But that was as starring a role as the chickens would play.

No one lost their chicken during any of the challenges (at least not that the editors let us see). By the end of the race, however, I was feeling bad for the chooks all cramped up in the bags being treated as so much extra baggage. Made me want to give Sophia and ZsuZsu extra grapes out of sympathy.

So, glad to see even more exposure for chooks on the tube, but hope they're not used as game pieces anywhere else again (the goats seemed to have it even worse in their role supporting the race).

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

more Urban Chickens in the news

Found a great article in the Independent Weekly talking about urban chickens in the Chapel Hill, NC, area.

About half-way through the article was this interesting tidbit about the benefits of backyard eggs:

Recent research published by Mother Earth News, a magazine dedicated to self-reliant and healthy living, found that eggs from chickens allowed to forage naturally have, on average, seven times more beta carotene (which is what makes pastured egg yolks so orange), three times more vitamin E, two times more omega-3 fatty acids and two-thirds more vitamin A than their factory farm cousins. Pastured eggs also have one-third less cholesterol and one-quarter less saturated fat, on

So, in addition to tasting so good, they actually ARE good for you. hooray!

One nit to pick in the story, there's a picture of fresh eggs about 2/3rds the way down the page, and wow, does it look staged, dontcha agree?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Urban Chicken challenges in Missoula

Thanks to the folks at boingboing, I found this story about controversy in Missoula over urban chickens.

Be sure to follow the link to see the video... hilarious presentation of the pro-chicken side of the argument.

The urban chicken ordinance, which stalled in City Council after a tie vote late this summer, would allow Missoula city residents the provisional right to raise up to six hens (no roosters) within the city limits.

Opponents of the ordinance have repeatedly pointed to health, noise and regulatory concerns, while supporters emphasize the importance of sustainability, self-sufficiency, and locally-sourced food. Until the new City Council takes over in January, Don Nicholson, current chair of the Public Safety and Health Committee, will decide when to bring the ordinance to the floor for a new vote.

Thanks to the folks at boingboing for pointing this issue out. Can't wait to see all hell break loose here in Redwood City as the opponents assert is bound to happen since I'm one of "them chicken folk" and my neighbors are not.

I've really got to spiff up my video techniques!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Urban Chickens now on Facebook

The page is just a start, but now you can become a fan of Urban Chickens on Facebook!

Simply visit our Urban Chickens page and click the "become a fan" link.

Let's see just how many urban chicken farmers there are on Facebook.

Fingers crossed for the Woody Creek Chicks

Since the changes to our own chickens have slowed (as evidenced by the decreased posting here), I've been following with interest the posts over at the Woody Creek Chicks blog.

The chef/blogger over there has been raising her own three chickens in an Eglu, and she's gone a step further in trying to hatch her own chicks this Fall. The tricky part? She's at altitude in Aspen, Colorado.

Having lived in New Mexico for a decade at high altitude myself, I know the effects first hand. All the tales of blue babies (lack of oxygen at 7000 feet) at the hospital are unconfirmed but plausible, and I'd imagine the same condition applies to chicks, too.

The incubation was to last 21 days, but that day has come and gone and the worry has understandably set in. Kinda like waiting for the first egg from our own chickens, but without the mortal consequences.

I'm hoping her next post has good news today. In the meantime, hop over and post your well-wishes and take a look at how pretty her Barred Rocks are (even though they're stuck in a pink Eglu)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

chicken farmers everywhere!

Just got back from a business trip to New York City, and I was quite surprised to find out that two folks I've known for several years grew up in households that raised chickens.

These were friends I haven't seen in a year or so, and when they asked what I've been up to, I of course talked about Sophia and ZsuZsu and this Urban Chickens blog.

Our conversations immediately went back to their childhoods and their experiences growing up with chickens in the backyard and how delightful it is to eat fresh eggs all the time.

Is this a  phenomenon where the vast majority of us have chicken farming in our background but no context in which it can come up in regular conversation?

I'm almost tempted to start a Chicken Farmers group on FaceBook just to see how many chickens are in my social graph.

If and when I create the group (maybe over Thanksgiving?), I'll post the link here.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, November 5, 2007

fifty pounds of chicken feed... gone!

It seems like just yesterday I was worrying about how to properly feed our chooks.

Checking my receipts, I see I bought our first fifty-pound bag of Layena crumbles Labor Day weekend.

Here we are just two months later and we've dusted the first bag and I just spent $11.99 to buy another fifty pounds of chicken feed.

Quick mid-blog-post math shows we spent $12 on feed and another $3 for the nesting material (aspen shavings) and we're up to $15.00 for the first 100 eggs. That's 15 cents an egg or $1.80 a dozen.

Having our own hens producing in the backyard sure beats the heck out of paying $3.00+ a dozen for industry-produced organic brown eggs down the road at Whole Foods.

And besides, when was the last time you saw a produce stocker chasing grapes?


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