Aardvark Art Glass

Chicken train
July 23, 2008, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Bloggidy Blog | Tags: , , ,

As I mentioned before, Don and I went on an backyard chicken coop tour on Sunday. The event is sponsored by Mad City Chickens who’s aim it is to educate the urban population about the benefits of raising poultry right at home, here, in the city. I hadn’t heard of the organization until I read about them in the paper this week but they’re really organized and have even had a documentary made about them.

Do you know how many people there are raising chickens in your city? I didn’t think there were any here but apparently there’s a whole bunch. Coop quality varies, I am sure. Of course, the coops on the tour were probably much nicer than average. Kind of the livestock equivalent of the Parade of Homes.

If I had a chicken coop I would make it look like a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Something with recognizable features but more energy effecient and raccoon proof than Frank’s real houses. Then we could dress up the chickens in little black fedoras and train them to peck at peoples wallets. What a worthwhile way to spend my time that would be! That dream will have to go unrealized because, due to houses in extremely close proximity (less than 25 feet), we can’t have chickens, or even a duck, where we live (unless we keep it inside. I’ve asked and I don’t think that will happen). The first time someone contracts any kind of illness you know who they’re going to blame-the people who built a  chicken coop 22 feet away from their kitchen window. That’s why the law is there, I guess-to protect everyone.

But just because we can’t have them doesn’t mean you should count yourself out of the urban chicken raising game. Chickens are in. I think they’re the new pot bellied pig, except better. They eat corn and the excrete eggs and compost-able material. When properly maintained the coops have no discernible odor. Chickens can be very friendly, pets even–but unlike conventional pets, you have the option of eating your chickens should they vex you or become a load when they stop producing eggs. It’s a win-win situation.

According to Madison law, each household is allowed up to four chickens. Here is what four chickens look like:

At one of the stops I took a picture of a little girl holding what was obviously her chicken. It was similar to the caramel colored one above. Chickens are surprisingly large–from toe to crown it was almost half the girl’s size. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask her mom if I could post the photo so I’m not going to. That chicken was subjected to a barrage of little girls bent on petting it, and the chicken was chill. When the little girl’s mother called it, the chicken came running. That one is not going to get eaten, ever.

Some coops were cute:

Some were more basic:

All of them functioned well and were home to very clean and healthy looking birds. From looking at the front of any of the houses you would not guess that there were chickens living in the backyard. They really don’t take up a lot of room or stink or make that much noise. You can only have four, remember, so it’s not all that much work to take care of them.

I bitch about this city a lot but there are some really cool things here–like that coop tour. I like listening to people talk about stuff that they’re really into and those people were really into raising chickens in their backyards. It was a fun day.


5 Comments so far
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Cool. My sister-in-law got some chickens in Indiana because you got some type of tax credit if you were a ‘farm’. Yeah…started out small and now they’re up to 150 last I heard. It would be awesome to have fresh eggs all the time! I wonder if they’d survive in 110 degree heat here. Hmmm. And I complain about having to feed a goldfish.

Comment by lori g.

Wow. Your sister in law has got a factory there–those birds lay an egg a day for three years. I hope her tax break was substantial. I don’t know about the heat but the birds can apparently stand 20 below winters since they live outside here. Hardy and interesting animals are chickens. I think two would be the right number for me.

Comment by cathylybarger

I am mad for some chickens, but I have to say I’m a little bummed to discover that I’m just chasing after the latest trend. I had no idea that backyard chickens were all of a sudden tres chic!
kate mck

Comment by katemckinnon

And how they are!I wouldn’t have thunk it at all. Madison is a green little city (buy local organic and what not)and I think that aspect of the chickens, along with the moderate zaniness, is another thing that appeals to people here. Don’t let the trendy factor ruin the dream of having a coop of your own, Kate! Your chickens won’t be like anyone else’s…at least they won’t seem like it to you.

Comment by cathylybarger

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