There is a growing movement in urban areas throughout the country. People are raising chickens to provide themselves with eggs. Look around your neighborhood's backyards and you'll probably find at least one neighbor with a small coop and run in their backyard.
Why on earth would you want to keep chickens? Some people think chickens are amusing and they bridge the gap between livestock and pets. Some people want to eat eggs that don't make them feel guilty. Others claim that the eggs are more nutritious and the chickens also help them get rid of kitchen scraps.
In San Jose, the municipal code allows for 1-4 hens to be kept at least 15 feet from any structure and no roosters are allowed. Not all municipalities are so welcoming of backyard chickens. Mad City Chickens is an organization that was founded in Madison, Wisconsin as a way to change the local laws to allow for residents to keep chickens in their backyards.
The library has a very good, but small collection of books on the topic. Choosing and Raising Chickens by Jeremy Hobson and Celia Lewis and The Joy of Keeping Chickens by Jennifer Lynn Megyesi are both good introductions. In these books, you'll learn which breeds are best for backyards, which ones are good layers (Buff Orpington and Australorp)
If you want to include your children in this new adventure (which is a really expensive way to get eggs) check out Tilly Lays an Egg by Teri Golson. In this story, Tilly lays eggs all over the farm and in a Where's Waldo style, you must find the egg in each photo.
Teri Golson keeps her own flock of chickens and her hencam makes for an interesting diversion. In plain sight, you'll see one or two chickens most of the time and she also has a rabbit hopping around in the pen. She also has a hen blog that has some entertaining photos and stories of the goings on at her little farm.
She isn't the only author out there who is enthusiastic about poultry! Alice Walker recently published The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories: Glorious, Rufus, Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia, Agnes of God, The Gladyses, & Babe: A Memoir - a book of her essays about her flock of chickens. All of the essays were originally blog posts, so you can read it online if you're willing. The essay she wrote entitled "Enough Mother" was extremely moving. She weaves stories about her life and her activism work with the comings and goings of her small flock.
You may not want to be as connected to your breakfast as the backyard chicken keepers are, but if you are like me, you must love chicks. So CUTE!
It’s that time right before bed and as most parents do, you’re going to read your child a bed time story. Everyone is settled and comfortable and in your best storytelling voice you begin reading, “Once upon a time….” when your child interrupts with a comment, a question, an observation or something out of the blue. Of course, you comment on his/her comment and continue “there were three….” when there’s another comment, question or observation. Eventually a long, long time later you actually manage to get through the book, or you’ve fallen asleep! If this scenario sounds familiar then you must read Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Here’s a little clip to give you a taste of this funny book that parents and children will enjoy. Check it out, but I don't guarantee your child won't interrupt!