Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Martha Stewart Chicken Show to Air April 2

At last! This Friday, April 2, urban chickens get their moment in the spotlight on the Martha Stewart Show (check local listings).

While it seems the actual raising of chickens is only part of the territory the show covers (in addition to egg decorating and the requisite cooking of eggs), the chickens are the most important part, right?

Here's the official description of the chicken show (taped just yesterday!) from her site:
Discover how easy and rewarding it can be to raise chickens in your own backyard with a guide to getting started from "My Pet Chicken" owner Traci Torres. Then, decorate farm-fresh eggs for Easter with children's book author and chicken owner Jan Brett, and make a mini egg and sourdough bread dish with Tini executive chef Darius Salko.
From the looks of it, our urban chicken interests will be well-represented by Traci of (the sponsor of this blog).

I wanted very much to be at the taping myself, but what with jury duty Monday and helping a client launch their new web site today, I just couldn't make it east to be in the audience. Lucky for me, I've got a DVR so I can watch this show over and over again!

Photo credit goes to Ori on Flickr

Friday, March 26, 2010

Exploring the human-chicken relationship

Spend two minutes talking to any urban chicken farmer, and you'll hear the tone of voice and see that sparkle in the eyes indicative of the special bond between any human and the animal they care for. (Well, except for those cold-hearted lizards, but that's another post entirely!)

Lee Zasloff, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at American River College in Sacramento, has a professional interest in human relationships with animals of all kinds, and she's very interested in learning about the experiences of people and their chickens.

Zasloff is conducting a survey of chicken owners to promote greater understanding of the human-chicken relationship, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for you, dear reader, to help out!

To take her survey, please visit (I took the survey this morning and it took me about six minutes to finish it).

Zasloff will be presenting the information she collects from the survey at the Veterinary Social Work Summit at the University of Tennessee this coming May.

She'd also like it if folks would send her photos with their favorite chicken (or with any chicken) and some stories about their chickens. You can send these direct to

Thanks for helping out!

Photo credit:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Hen Cam: Raising Urban Chickens Vicariously

If you are one of the unfortunate many who can't keep chickens on your own either because they are illegal or you don't have room or you simply don't have the time, there's still a way for you to get your urban chicken on! 
Enter The Hen Cam, an ingenious little website maintained by writer Terry Golson.

In addition to Golson's well-written HenBlog, the site provides us a view into life with chickens and goats on Little Pond Farm (which is actually just her backyard in a town west of Boston, Massachusetts).

She's got several cameras set up throughout her backyard taking pictures every 5 seconds and streaming them onto the web, allowing viewers to see snapshots from multiple viewpoints within the chicken's coop and run.

And if, like me, you wonder how the whole thing works, there's a detailed page on how the camera setup is configured so you can get your geek on.

If you look long enough (warning: it's mesmerizing), you can see all her birds: the Polish Cresteds, the Wyandotte, the Sussex, the Barred Rock (see her full list of animals here).

What I love about the HenCam is its aquarium-like quality: you get to see chickens being very chicken-like without going outdoors or influencing their behavior by standing outside their run or having to scrape your feet!

If you find yourself spending too much watching the Hen Cam, maybe it's a sign you need to get urban chickens of your own.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Urban Chicken Coop Tours in 2010

Spring is almost here!!! I've started to see news of urban chicken coop tours float through the internets, so I'm going to list those I know (and ask you to help me grow the list):
Cities where there were tours last year but I've not yet seen news about 2010: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Madison, Spokane, Tucson. As soon as I can confirm dates for this year, I'll add them to the list above.

As I said last year, Whether you're still at the planning stages of urban chicken farming or have had your own coop for years, going on chicken coop tour is a great way to see how others look after their chooks, get some inspiration for changes you might make to your own urban chicken setup or just meet your fellow backyard chicken fans on a beautiful day around the city.

If you know of a coop tour I've missed, please drop me a line or add it in the comments and I'll update this post to include it. Thanks, and have fun on your tours!

Photo credit: aehack on Flickr

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Backyard Bunnies are NOT the Next Urban Chickens

An article appeared over on the GOOD blog this week proclaiming backyard bunnies to be the next urban chickens, and it seems this proclamation has some resonance amongst the sustainability crowd, as it was tweeted and retweeted quite a bit over the last few days.

Let me set this straight. Backyard Bunnies are NOT the next Urban Chickens for one simple reason: you don't kill your chicken at harvest time.

Urban chickens will provide a regular supply of protein-packed eggs for at least three years (sometimes much longer) and there's no blood on your hands. Raising chickens means entering a nurturing relationship with an animal that rewards you sustainably and over time.

Bunnies, on the other hand, only give up their protein once: and that's after the slaughter. And I'm not so sure mainstream America are ready to have a bunch of slaughter operations going on in the suburbs. (Heck, they're having a hard enough time with the chicken poop).

Sure, there are many reasons why rabbits are, indeed a good source of meat, as the GOOD article details, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

If you want to know how difficult it is to kill a bunny, I recommend reading Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter as she goes into great detail what it's like to move from raising fowl for eggs to fowl for slaughter to bunnies for meat.

Of course, many of you may already be thinking about raising your chooks for eggs and meat and so the whole slaughter bit doesn't really bother you. I, on the other hand, see urban chickens as bug- and weed-eating sources of chicken manure and eggs. The thought of raising chickens for meat is beyond me, and I prefer to stay one step removed from that process for a good while now.

What about you? Are you keeping your chickens for eggs or for meat or for both? How did you come to that decision?

Photo credit: Justin and Elise on Flickr


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