Urban Chickens: Do it yourself hen-party

Until recently, my knowledge of chickens– live ones, at least– was very limited. When I thought of poultry egg production, my mind turned to clucking, gossipy hens who, upon hearing the seductive croon of an emaciated rooster resembling a young Frank Sinatra with feathers, fainted dead away on the small mountain of eggs that just poured out of their backsides as a result of their brief, moony-eyed rapture.

That is, until I met Sophia [above, left] and Zsu Zsu [above, right], two Barred Rock Hens who make their home with the Kriese family in Redwood City.

I’d read about these hens at Urban Chickens— a fascinating blog started by Thomas and Melanie Kriese that began as an online diary about the joys and challenges of raising baby chicks into egg-laying adulthood, but has since grown into a mouthpiece for a kind of nascient-though-growing Poultry Rights movement. Yes, if you are looking for the latest-breaking local and national poultry news, you can find it there.

My original fascination with the website stemmed from an article outlining the municipal codes of San Francisco pertaining to poultry raising. Yes, that means raising chickens within San Francisco city limits. Apparently, anyone with enough room to keep a chicken coop 20 feet away from any human dwelling’s door or window can keep up to four chickens (sorry, no roosters) as pets! Somehow, I found this news very cheering.

Imagine waking up to find fresh eggs delivered a mere 20 feet from your back door every morning by animals who have imprinted more deeply upon you than your children ever will. Just please don’t expect miracles– hens lay on average once every 26 hours, which would give you…you’ll have to do the math yourself. If that is beyond you, you have no business caring for chickens since you most likely have enough difficulty just getting dressed in the morning.

[Above: Sophia’s very first egg is on the left, her latest, on the right.]

Fresh eggs. Not farm-fresh, mind you. Fresher than that. Fresh from the business ends of your pets.

Pets that like you so much, they provide you with food. Yes, cats will occasionally offer you a small dead bird or lizard, but only a loving chicken can provide you with the consistent means to create marvelous omelets.

And if I had a dog, I’d be looking at him with deep disappointment right about now, too.

Not only do chickens-as-pets provide eggs, they gladly lend themselves to weeding and pest control. And the supply of fertilizer is nearly endless.

Chickens, it would seem, are good for the environment.

After the Krieses kindly allowed me to spend time with their docile, kid-friendly hens, they sent me off with a few eggs from their personal stash, wrapping the very-latest egg separately, so that I might distinguish it from the rest. I was eager to crack it open and have at it.

Upon return to my friend Squid‘s house, I cracked open a beer, and then proceeded to do the same with the freshest egg in my acquaintance.

There was very little I wished to do other than eat it. But how? A light scramble, with just a little butter in the pan and a slight sprinkling of sea salt when it hit the plate. I cooked up a store-bought (though still organic) egg exactly the same way and compared the two. Everything about the ür-fresh egg was richer– the color of the yolk, the flavor, and the feel on the tongue. The store-bought egg was still good, but, you know where I am going with this, surely.

The thought of returning to my tiny, chicken-free apartment suddenly depressed me a little. Then I took another swig of beer, another bite of scrambled egg, and moved on.

If you think you might be eligible to keep some urban chickens of you very own, or just want to read about people who do, visit myurbanchickens.blogspot.com.

To purchase an Eglu, which is basically a Barbie Dream home for chickens, visit:

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17 Responses to Urban Chickens: Do it yourself hen-party

  1. Great to have you over, Michael, and love the pictures you took while you were here.

    Wouldn’t you know it, but the girls laid yet another egg not 15 minutes after you left!

    We’ll keep some eggs at the ready should you ever be in the neighborhood again (that is, until you start keeping your own hens).

  2. Gary says:

    Great post…and a very smart-looking coop. Now available for ordering the U.S. too:

    http://www.omlet.us/homepage/homepage.php

  3. michaelprocopio says:

    Thanks for doing a post about my visit, Thomas. I just joined the Urban Chickens group on Facebook this morning.

    Gary– thanks very much! Does this mean that you two are going to now substitute chickens for cats?

  4. cookiecrumb says:

    Oh, weep, weep!
    I’d love to raise chickies in a Barbie igloo, but odds are they’d insist I buy them the Jammin’ Jeep, too.

  5. missginsu says:

    A swoon-worthy post. And oh, how jealous I am of those with greenspace! Alas… we yardless urban apartment-dwellers must make due with the farmer’s market or CSA eggshares… both decidedly farther from the hen’s rear.

    Cheers!
    Miss G.

  6. michaelprocopio says:

    Cookie Crumb– I think that if you could manage to train chickens to drive the Jammin’ Jeep, you could make A LOT of money, you know.

    Miss Ginsu– Yeah, the greenspace dilemma. Perhaps we might petition our respective cities for chicken-raising permits allowing for free-ranging pecking and scratching within the confines of our famous parks?

    Just a thought.

  7. Nonnahs says:

    Though I do love the fresher than farm aspect, alas. I don’t think I’m up to the task of raising chickens at this point (I also doubt my dog would find that too amusing)…although I am quite intrigued now by the idea of urban chickens! Fascinating!

  8. ziabaki says:

    I love love love my chickens. The eggs I get from my darlings is incomparable to any commercial egg, organic or not. Thanks for the great write up! I talked a bit about eggs on my blog as well a few months back. http://danazia.wordpress.com/
    Have an eggcellent day!

  9. Nothing better than a cloaca-fresh hen egg. And I’m not even being irreverent. Nectar of the gods, right there.

    A friend of mine who has recently become an urban poultrymeister refers playfully to his coop as “the nunnery.” Works for me.

  10. Farmfresh says:

    Hurray for urban chickens!

    Another easy way to get involved in urban chickens yourself is to build a coop from a commercial plan. My coop is called the City Biddy Hen House. This coop is low cost, easy to build, mobile and cute as a button and the website is full of poultry information for the beginner. Check it out! http://www.uBuilderPlans.com

  11. This blog is great especially that i love poultry raising and getting my supply of fresh,clean eggs. I can share some chicken incubation tips through my blog too. Hope others can get some insights too.

  12. Thank you for sharing this one. I wanna start my own chicken farm but I am worried bec i have a dog and its very playful that kills my neighbors chicken. I plan to put it in a cage to make it safe.

  13. michaelprocopio says:

    Damian– You are quite welcome.

    Question for you: Are you planning on putting the chicken or the dog in a cage? I couldn’t tell.

    Thomas Kreise (the first commenter on and subject of this post– just click his name for the link to his site) has a dog. You might want to ask him for some advice.

  14. Toni William says:

    There is nothing like watching chickens run about in the chicken range. This blog is really cool and I agree with the UrbanChickens site – it contains lots of info and good read as well.

  15. Lovely girls, Sophia And Zsu Zsu. They make you crave to start your own urban chicken coop. But wait till you move out of the apartment and settle down in a legalize home for keeping chickens. Hehe…

    Daniel

    Chicken coop plans

    • michaelprocopio says:

      Daniel, I barely have room for houseplants. I shudder to think about chickens (lovely or not) running amok in my living room. I shall have to content myself with relying on the industriousness of others to get my ultra-fresh, local eggs.

      Sigh,

      Michael

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