Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mother Cluckers In The City

Our chickens have settled in to la casa Ford. I must say that they are a unique addition to our little homestead. While I did grow up on a farm, we never raised chickens. So, this is uncharted territory for the Ford household. I know I may regret committing this to the Internet, but they are strangely captivating to watch as they meander around our little backyard. There's some sort of zen aspect to this. Either that or we've acquired a rare bread of hypno-chicken.

You may be asking yourself, "Why on earth would we reserve space on our postage stamp property for urban chickens?" Yes, we buy the free range, organic eggs to the tune of over $4 a dozen but this doesn't break the Ford bank. If you add in the additional labor and supplies, our eggs won't exactly be free for awhile. That being said, they are really pretty easy to maintain and they are not that messy. At least four of them together aren't messy. So, what gives?

Overall, maintaining chickens in the city is a fun challenge. It's a learning experiment that brings a little more life to our backyard. Our daughter giggles uncontrollably when we let them run around in the yard. That's more than enough for us. But wait, there's more!

Bye bye bugs?
We've read that chickens will keep slugs, mosquitoes, and other bugs in check. This is currently an unconfirmed benefit to having a few hens pecking around in your backyard. I hope this to be true as the mosquitoes in our backyard are atrocious and I've got to be losing just a tiny bit of karma by pouring salt on the slugs I discover in the backyard. Yeah, I'm nine years old like that sometimes.

Chickens love to help with compost
I woke up one day awhile back and realized I had a weird fixation on dirt and compost. I get a weird sense of satisfaction seeing my organic trash turned into rich soil. What's not to love? These chickens get a gold star from me as they like pecking at certain food scraps, accelerating decomposition. We stir it into a compost bin with the rest of our organic material and the rest is magic.

Local, local, local
Chickens in our backyard are not going to single handily save our food system nor will they ween us off of said system. That's not the point. From a cost and quality perspective, our future food system will have to be obsessed with local sources of food. Food sources great and small. Feeding both rural residents and urbanites is going to require new collaborations between consumers and producers. We believe that chickens in your back yard, a decent sized urban garden, and so forth help create a catalyst for larger scale, coordinated local food movements.

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