Monday, December 29, 2008

Urban Chickens across LA and Chicago

Susan Carpenter does us all a favor by sharing her cautionary tale of getting chickens in her Los Angeles backyard.

Anyone getting swept up in the momentum of urban chickens and wanting to dive right in would do well to read her story to learn the value of a little virtual legwork to get the lay of the land:

What I am here to tell you, though, is that raising chickens doesn't have to cost nearly as much as what I spent, which was $100 for two birds at an animal shelter, $379 for the hutch and run, $31 for a feeding system and $34 for a few months' worth of grit and mash.

I could gobble the most expensive, free-range, organically fed, hand-massaged Whole Foods eggs for years and still not spend the $500-plus I put out for my rig.

If you're wondering why I spent so much, the answer is motherhood. I don't have a lot of free time, so I bought gear online and had it delivered to my house. I compounded the mistake by taking my son to pick out chickens at the shelter. He already had named them and they were packed in the carrier when the lady at the counter told me the adoption fee, which was "just the same as a rabbit." A hundred bucks is a lot, but it seemed a small price to avoid a child meltdown.

$100 for two chickens? eesh. To our benefit, Carpenter then details how and where she could have picked up all the gear in LA for less than $150.

The news is much better in the Midwest with Sara Olkon's story about urban chickens in Chicagoland.

Olkon profiles several urban chicken farmers across Chicago to find out the why and the how of their having chickens in their backyard.
Martha Boyd, program director for Angelic Organics Learning Center, offered a workshop in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood on basic backyard chicken care for city residents last month.

Within 48 hours, the 30-spot workshop had sold out. Angelic plans to hold another class March 21.

Tom Rosenfeld, one of the workshop instructors, said he is floored by the amount of interest.

“We've finally gone over the top in this corporate food delivery system,” he said. “It's about connecting much closer to (one's) food.”

An organic apple farmer, Rosenfeld has kept hens at his Rogers Park home for more than three years. But unlike many of the urban chicken enthusiasts he meets, Rosenfeld does not name the birds. For him, the birds are not pets.

“I wanted the eggs,” he said.
Unfortunately, it seems Chicago Alderman Lona Lane is back at it again trying to make urban chickens illegal in Chicago (for all the standard "smell, noise, rodent" reasons). At least this time, she's narrowing her attempt to be solely in the geographic area she represents.

Seen any other stories about Urban Chickens in the paper where you live? If so, share the links in the comments!


Paul Hughes said...

Calgary Urban Chicken petition:

Calgary does not presently allow chickens to be raised within the municipal boundaries.

Granny Annie said...

Gulp......It doesn't cost me that much to feed my flock of chickens for a year! At least we have found the golden hens! What treasures for your son.


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