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Our Urban Chickens: Should We Love Them or Eat Them?

23 Feb

chickenThankfully our seven lady friends started laying eggs again after a too long winter break. We were all getting worried that they had stopped laying eggs all together. OK, I knew the laying would come back, but how soon and at what level of production – that I didn’t know.

The eggs are coming again, and I’m thankful for them, but they are not coming at the same rate as they did when the ladies were 1 and 2. At their peak, they were laying two eggs every three days. Now I estimate they’re laying one every three days. Quite a difference. And it’s not their fault, production slows when they get older. And by older, I mean 3 years old.

So, I ask, should we eat our chickens or keep them as our pets? From where I’m sitting, we should eat them. We feed them scraps from our table, we give them leftovers from the garden, we enjoy their eggs, we use their poop for fertilizer. Together all of these steps are part of the natural cycle of life that we’re trying to re-create as much as we can on urban farms like ours. Well, to complete the cycle, we should eat the chickens that we have so carefully fed and that have so wonderfully fed us back with their delicious eggs. Eating them would complete the circle and, in my view, give them ultimate respect. What shows respect more than eating something and having it become part of you?

But wait, I’m only one person. Not all the members of our family agree that eating our chickens is a good idea, namely my daughters, ages 6 and 4. And also, our neighbor who we share the chickens with also doesn’t think this is a good idea. Probably the writing was on the wall when the girls and our neighbor named the ladies.

So, for now, they live on, and for now they are continuing to give us eggs. So we’re all happy with the status quo. For now.

Crazy Dog Digs Up Carrots

21 Feb

We have a dog that likes to dig. He digs, sticks his nose in the dirt, digs some more, spraying dirt all around while he does it, on you, on the sidewalk – it doesn’t matter as long as he gets to dig.

On this day, we let Latke into the garden so he could help us dig up most of the last of our carrots. By us, I mean me and my two daughters. Together we pulled in quite a haul of carrots, and it wasn’t the first time. We’ve been eating carrots from the garden all fall and through the winter so far. It’s been awesome because carrots are my daughters most favorite vegetable – having a continuous supply has allowed them to actually pack a vegetable in their lunches that they actually eat.

Latke kind of jumped around when it came to helping us out with his digging, so I think there are still some more carrots out there. I’ll probably try to dig up the rest without him. But in the meantime, we will enjoy the fruit of his labors – at least the fruit that he didn’t eat. He actually ate at least one carrot that I know of, maybe more.

Enjoy this slideshow of Latke at work with help from the girls.

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Over wintering spinach makes for yummy Sunday quiche

19 Feb

The spinach that has been huddling in my garden all winter came in handy this morning as we made quiche for guests. Had to go check the coop because we ran low on eggs. So glad the ladies have started laying again.


Cycle of “chicken poop” life

16 Feb

We have seven chickens that we share with our neighbor. As urban farmers know, chickens are the lifeblood of trying to live sustainably in the city. You buy organic food, you drop the scraps into a chicken bucket. The chickens eat the scraps and make poop (the eggs are a nice byproduct). Then you take the poop and mix in with your grass clippings, leaves, and the food scraps the chickens won’t eat. At the end of the compost process, you have rich soil that you put in your garden to grow your own food.

All of this adds up to living sustainably – at least for one slice of your life. It feels great, even if it’s mostly a symbol of true sustainability. But it’s real, and doing it makes you feel really great.

And while I love the cycle, I do have to admit that I don’t have it down perfectly. The piece I want to work on is composting. Right now I drop the chicken poop, grass, and everything else into trashcans and pretty much just let it sit there for long periods of time. Eventually it breaks down and turns into good soil, but it takes forever and it doesn’t mix evenly – and I’m never sure when it’s cured and is ready for the garden. I just spread my  compost into my garden and worked it into the soil in hopes that any “hot” poop will cool off before I plant.

This year I want to up the ante and actually go find compost bins that lay on their side on tracks – they’re what I dream about because all you do is give the barrel a little nudge on the track each time you drop scraps or poop in there. That little bit of rotation stirs up the compost and helps it decompose much faster and mixes everything up nicely. I want two barrels please, and right away. Smile

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