Monday, January 24, 2011

Is keeping chickens in a small suburban neighborhood possible?

I think I have always been a country girl at heart. Always wishing I had grown up on a small farm with horses, sheep, a cow or two and a flock of chickens. Even now I still wish I had a couple acres to have myself that small farm I always wanted. Will that ever happen...probably not.

I might not ever be able to have the sheep, cows, or horses but the idea of keeping chickens has stuck with me for years. In fact long before I actually thought it was really even possible. Years ago I was watching Martha Stewart and the episode I caught was about her chickens. I saw all the beautiful colored eggs and her wonderful coop and oh the chickens! After that I truly dreamed of someday having some of my own.

Well one day years later almost a year after moving into our first house I was in Cracker Barrel when something caught my eye. It was a book on urban chicken keeping! I thought seriously you really CAN keep chickens in a suburban neighborhood!! My husband wasn't with me at the time but when I got home I couldn't wait to tell him the good news. Unfortunately he thought I was nuts and wasn't so keen on the idea. So I started researching about what it takes to keep chickens and coop designs. I found a fantastic web site called full of helpful information and a terrific forum. So I started talking to my husband about it again now fully informed. I showed him that we could build a small coop that would look nice and keep a few hens. How they wouldn't take up much room at all and we could put them right along the back fence and out of the way. To my surprise he said ok!! So right away we found some neat coop plans and got to building meanwhile I bought 3 young hens (RedStars) who were just starting to lay and they were on the way! I was so excited to finally have chickens of my very own! So they arrived Hannah, Abby and Ginger, all safe and sound and put them into there new home. We adored them and couldn't believe how much better tasting there eggs were too! Three years later we got 6 more as chicks and raised them, adding to the 3 we already had. They are very addicting let me tell you...ask anyone who keeps chickens!

Now I must say that though it is possible to keep chickens in an urban/suburban neighborhood every county, city or neighborhood has different laws or rules. More and more cities are allowing folks to keep a small number of hens as it is becoming more popular and folks are fighting to have laws changed to be able to keep a small flock of backyard hens. However there are still some who require a certain amount of land or have strict requirements to keep them. Then there are some especially folks living in neighborhoods with HOA's that forbid keeping chickens. You will need to call your local zoning office to find out what there laws are on keeping chickens. I strongly advise you to mention them as pets as this seems to make a difference for some reason with certain areas. HOA's are a different story as they are usually very strict. I don't have an HOA and will never live in a neighborhood that has one for that exact reason. It never hurts to try though and you may just be the one to help educate them on keeping chickens and change the law or rule. Now there are some keeping chickens illegally. I don't advise it. You will quickly become attached to them and if caught (they can be a little noisy at times) they will make you get rid of them or possibly fine you. If they don't allow them in your area try to change it, many are doing just that. Most folks are very uneducated about chickens and think they smell and attract rodents or can carry or bring disease. I suppose that can happen if not cared for but so can other animals. Most people who want to keep backyard chickens do it because they love chickens as I do. They do make wonderful pets. Many enjoy being held in fact. Most are sweet tempered excellent with kids and are very amusing to watch. They make excellent garbage disposal as they love kitchen scraps and leftovers. In return for a small bit of space and some love reward you with delicious tasting eggs every or almost every day. That's without the help of a rooster I might add! Yes, no rooster needed! I will post on what it takes to keep chickens and how to care for them in another post.

To the right is a couple of eggs from one of my beautiful Easter Eggers and Rhode Island Reds. What a treat to find these everyday!

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