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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Growing the Urban Farm

Enjoying the morning sun
For a long time now, I've been wanting chickens. I grew up out in the country, and my parents always had chickens. Before moving to the city, I owned chickens and a turkey. Having fresh eggs every day was pretty much a given. Being able to simply enjoy watching the hens roam around the yard was something I didn't know I would miss so much. But I did. I really wanted chickens again.

Unfortunately, living in the city doesn't make having chickens easy. First there was the hubby who needed to be convinced. Then there was the city ordinances to take into consideration. As if those two obstacles weren't enough, I had to think about my neighbors.

So I went to work on Hubby. I talked about chickens all the time. I'm quite sure he finally just reached the point of thinking all right already. Give the chicken talk a rest. Please. I kept suggesting I was going to buy a coop and create a space for the chickens behind the house. They'd be completely fenced in, I told him. No one will even know they're there, well, at least until one lays an egg. Then people might start looking around, wondering where in the world the chicken squawking was coming from. But chicken squawking only lasts a short time, I assured him. It'll be fine. He would just nod his head, so I took that as the signal to go ahead, get the coop. In March, after researching for months, I found the coop I liked and brought it home.

As I was working on Hubby, I knew I had to check with the City. I knew the last time having backyard chickens went in front of the City Council it was voted down, but I also knew some people were harboring chickens right under our noses. I wondered how they could do so. I emailed each City Council member, inquiring into the status of owning chickens within the city limits, and waited for a response. A week went by and nothing. Finally, one City Council member emailed me back. His response was information I already knew about the previous vote, but at the end of his email he wrote, "Please call me." So I did. During our conversation, the City Council member said, "Basically, it's a complaint-based ordinance. You can have chickens until someone complains." At the end of the conversation, he said, "I suggest you go ahead and get the chickens. The worst that can happen is you have to get rid of them if someone complains about you having them." Well then . . ..

That left my neighbors. One sunny March Saturday, as I was preparing the hive for the new package of bees I had purchased, my neighbor who lives directly behind us, who would be most affected by the chickens, was outside. I called over the fence to him, asking if he minded if I had a couple of chickens. He sort of cocked his head to one side, saying, "No. I want to have some myself, but it's not allowed here." I relayed the information I had learned to him, and he very enthusiastically said go ahead. I promised him fresh eggs and honey for being so accommodating.

In early April, the ladies arrived to their new home. They were maybe a week old when I bought them. Still soft with down. Now, their feathers have grown in, and each is getting bigger by the day. Hubby visited them last evening for the first time in awhile, and he exclaimed over how big they had gotten. For me, like the enjoyment I receive just by standing and watching the bees come and go, doing what they know to do, watching the chicks grow, listening to them peep and squabble, witnessing their funny antics is far more entertaining than any TV show. Hubby and the boys know that if I'm not in the house these days, I can be found out in the garden that is now home to chickens and bees.

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