The Why and the How of Chickens

I’ve been to many a meeting in 2016, but none so exciting to me as the one I went to last week about backyard chickens.

I’ve been joking for years now about turning my house into a farm. My Facebook profile reads “chief child and chicken wrangler.” At some point, I found a Facebook group about making chicken-keeping legal in my town, and I joined, but the group wasn’t too active.

That changed recently, and last week several members of the group including me met up to talk about making a serious run at getting a pilot program approved in town. We had the benefit of the presence of the local “chicken lady,” G.B., who has been very involved in the pilot programs started by several nearby towns.

It’s exciting to have some momentum. We’ll see what happens, but I do hope that someday soon I could have some chickens.

Why, exactly, do I want backyard chickens?

  1. Fresh eggs. They don’t come any fresher, and no more puzzling over labels on cartons to figure out the conditions they were produced in. Eggs from hens that are truly free-range, that get to eat grass and bugs and table scraps, are generally more nutritious and better tasting, too. (See links below for more info.)
  2. Educational for the kiddies, and another opportunity for them to complain about doing jobs learn responsibility.
  3. Hens eat ticks and all manner of bugs. They will even eat mice! They are omnivores.
  4. Chicken manure = great for the garden. Also, I need to read more on this, but the way they peck and scratch and eat weeds is also good for your soil in terms of prepping it for growing food.

I have plenty to learn about chickens, and I need to look more into the upfront costs (like building a coop), but I feel fairly certain that were this to pass, I would get them.

Note that roosters are generally not allowed under these types of pilots and ordinances. Too noisy, and you don’t need them to get eggs. You only need them if you want to actually breed chickens. For that, you’ll have to move to a real farm 🙂

Here are some helpful links:

Reasons to have backyard chickens

Even more reasons to have backyard chickens

Don’t kiss your chickens on the mouth. They are farm animals, not pets.

And for my dad, who had to go and bring up avian influenza: it seems like you just need to take steps to keep your hens away from wild birds.

So, aside from chicken meetings, last week was pretty quiet and went by extremely fast. It’s been cool and rainy for days and days, and I like it. Some soccer practices and games were canceled, which gave me a bit of a break. I notice, however, that so much rain after such a dry summer is making the tomatoes split more than usual. (Well, I read that somewhere, and then I noticed it.) Still getting plenty of good ones, though.

I also was able to make chicken stock from a rotisserie chicken carcass, using my homegrown carrots, onion, and parsley. So that’s in the freezer now. And on Friday I finally got around the digging all the frozen bananas out and making banana bread. The kids enjoyed it all weekend and they got some in their lunch today as well. I wanted to add cauliflower but my frozen puree was from January (!), so that had to get tossed.

We had spaghetti and meatballs on Monday; pork chops, mashed potatoes and broccoli on Tuesday; pizza Wednesday; and leftovers Thursdays. Friday, hubs and I went out to eat while the kids had noodles and banana bread for dinner. I regret to say that we went to Applebee’s, since I’ve panned Applebee’s on here in the past for their not-real food. But sometimes a girl just wants a frozen margarita, and that was my best bet for that. Living in a dry town stinks sometimes! Yeah, I could stop and get tequila, bring it to the local Mexican place, etc., but we didn’t have time for that. And I needed a stiff drink or two since we were discussing finances. All went well and I have a few new ideas to try on that front.

Saturday, there was no soccer, so the kids and I did a bunch of errands including the bank, the farmers’ market, stopping at a pet food store to see pets for adoption, and renting Aidan a flute at the music store. And those stops were all downtown except the bank. Yay for downtown!

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Waiting to get into the music store. There was a “be right back!” sign tacked on to the Open sign.

They talked me into going to the skating center after that. Gemma had birthday money she had just received from her grandparents, and the boys had some too, so they paid their own way. Lucky for them, there was a special fall festival type thing happening there, so it was only $3 to get in. Lucky for me, because of the festival, it closed at 4 pm instead of 5:30. So we had a quick bit of fun there, then home.

I love October. I’m so very glad it’s not hot anymore. If the weather cooperates, I’d like to have a little outdoors get together this coming weekend. With BBQ/chili/s’mores. Something like that. We’ll see.

I was glad to get to the farmers’ market. I got eggs, as well as pork chops and ribs from Hillacres Pride. Also some arugula. In my regular grocery shopping, I have been trying to follow “eat local.” My lettuce and kale (for the guinea pig) usually come from the “from our local farms” section at Wegmans. I make sure to get the Wegmans apple juice that says “apples from USA.” I also go for the “from our local farms” meat section. It’s still hard to decide sometimes. I bought fresh broccoli last week, and it took a minute or two to determine the best choice. There was nothing hyper local, so I had a conventional bunch in hand when I realized that over yonder was some organic broccoli from California.  But I still sometimes get things such as clementines from Chile, since they are popular in our house. (Someone cut little jack o’lantern faces into the last bunch I bought, with their fingernails — grrr. Must have been Sebastian.)  Maybe this week I can make a better effort and start targeting some “bad” foods, that I buy more or less automatically, for replacement.

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