Considering it's been just over a year since I was inspired by an article in the San Jose Mercury News to start raising chicknes in our own backyard, I thought it might be useful to recap the year for those contemplating joining the movement. (longtime followers will recognize the bullet list from my six-month recap)
- Peeps Incoming: my first post about our plans to raise chickens
- Chicks outdoors for the first time: contains our first outdoor urban chicken home movie
- Two weeks into chicken farming: getting comfortable having poultry underfoot
- A new orange crib for the chooks: setting up the Eglu and moving the chickens out of the house and into their new home
- Worried we've got ourselves a cockerel: wherein I share my ignorance of poultry anatomy and my fear we won't have eggs
- Video of the grape chase: our second home movie showing our favorite chicken pasttime: the chooks chasing each other for grapes
- Perils of free-ranging the chooks: when the girls try to grill themselves
- The chickens escaped the yard: their first (and likely not last) taste of freedom from fences
- OUR FIRST EGG!: 'nuf said
My biggest concern over the winter (a wet and cool winter here in the Bay Area) was that the girls would dislike being cooped up so much since I wouldn't have time to hang out with them before or after work on account of darkness. Thanks to help from LeftCoast Mom, the hens got enough leg-stretching time during the days that the girls seemed quite content to keep producing eggs at a pace of about eight a week between them (down from their peak of twelve a week in the Fall).
The chicken-raising routine looks something like this:
- Everyday: fill the food bowl, change the water, check for eggs, add wood chips to the nesting box if needed. (takes 5 minutes)
- Twice weekly: empty the droppings out of the Eglu, very easy to do by design, thanks Omlet! (takes two minutes)
- Weekly: clean the Eglu by rinsing and scrubbing the interior parts (20 minutes)
- Semi-monthly: purchase 50-lb bag of layena crumbles at the feed store (cost is $12 and is worked in with other errands)
So you see it's negligible work to keep chickens on your own, and the satisfaction of cracking open your very own eggs each morning to cook up for breakfast (sometimes even warm from the nest) is simply to die for. This spring, I'll be able to use our own chicken-poop enriched compost on our garden, thus completing the circle.
Oh, and since raising chickens has become so routine for us, this blog has started to spotlight the plight of other urban chicken farmers who aren't so lucky as to live in a municipality that allows a small flock of hens.
I think there's a lot of misconceptions about the noise, smell, dirtiness, etc, of raising chickens in an urban setting, and where possible, I'd like to dispel these notions and get more folks to reclaim a bit of the food chain for themselves.
If anyone has any questions about raising chickens, the comments are open. (Oh and any other urban chicken farmers -- you can see a few in the blog roll to the right -- please chime in to fill in any gaps I may have left in the story)