J. Patrick Lewis, Laureate
Love That "Man with a Pan"

Chickens, Gardens, (sub)Urban Homesteaders

"But the things I flat-out enjoy the most [about owning chickens] are not about virtue or use—they are about having them. Naming them, feeding them, talking to them (which is stupid I know, and I don't care) and just plain watching them."

Laura Cooper, as quoted in The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (Process Media, 2010)

As someone who tells her hens good night, I can totally relate to the the "stupid I know, and I don't care" part. Chicken keeping is increasingly popular around here. We went to a ribbon cutting for some friends' big beautiful new coop recently, and one of the hens looked exactly like our Queenie. Exactly! She turned out to be Queenie's sister. Small chicken world.

We live in the suburbs, not the heart of the city, but there's plenty of practical advice in The Urban Homestead no matter where one lives. I've spent the better part of May (when it wasn't raining) in the yard with J., planting tomatoes, herbs, okra, flowers, radishes, and other things. He is going to saw down some of our abundant bamboo for poles for Kentucky Wonder Beans. 

Meanwhile, the Harry Potter audiobooks have taken us through a school year's worth of car rides. What a gift! We're now on #5. The Goblet of Fire, #4, was my favorite so far. So much is happening. I also noted how J.K. Rowling paints an absolutely awful portrait of the journalist Rita Skeeter. She lies, sneaks around, misquotes. Ouch. The Goblet movie is waiting for us at the library, so I'd better run and pick it up.

Happy Memorial Day to all.


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I like chickens because it makes me feel a tad above the mere mortals who don't have chickens. And I like very much that they provide a way to quickly compost kitchen scraps.

When they jump on my back when I'm weeding, not so much....

And a happy Memorial Day to you as well ... from us and our 4 remaining hens and the 25 2-week-old chicks in a box in the garage! (They're already perching. Geniuses, quite obviously.)

Sounds like a lovely May! We have had a LOT of rain here, so I feel like I have to run outside and do something in the yard every single moment that it's not raining. I'm still behind on the planting, but thank goodness this weekend's been rain-free.

Charlotte, you don't have a rooster, do you? Ours did that kind of thing--jump on our backs. If we are digging, the girls stay very close by (and get in the way), so that they can beat us to the worms.

Meechelle, 25 chicks! What kinds? You and Steve were my inspiration to finally get chickens--and, see, Charlotte above caught the chicken bug, too!. I remember when you got the coop called the Orpington. I was so intrigued. We want some Rhode Island Reds but have to get a new setup first.

Adrienne, yes, so lovely! We did have about two weeks of rain, and that was getting to me. Today, though, feels like summer, and I'm loving it. We cooked out & enjoyed, er, chicken (not ours) made with a home-grown-herb marinade.

Susan, this is so beautifully written, you really made me laugh ("small chicken world!"). You are such a masterful writer and I know your chickens KNOW this is true (have they stolen or borrowed your keyboard yet?). When we kept chickens, I used to let my chickens wander into the house. They'd explore and wander back out. What fun we had, and having eggs every day was so perfect. Happy Memorial Day!

Chickens are such a hoot. I can just picture them wandering in for a visit! Thanks for your kind words, Elaine!

Ever since we came back from Italy, where some relatives have chickens for pets, my daughter's been asking for one! I don't know of anyone who has them in a home setting here in the USA, so I was delighted to read this post. Thanks!

Dawn, yes! Get some chickens--at least two to keep each other company. And hens, not roosters, who crow all day long. Years ago it wasn't uncommon to have backyard chickens; I'm glad they're making a comeback. Chickens are great fun. Plus you get eggs.

Chicken blog rec: Simply Chicks, http://simplychicks.blogspot.com/

Best book on beginning chicken-keeping: Keep Chickens: Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces, by Barbara Kilarski. http://bit.ly/lq2O6g

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