I want to raise chickens. I have been overcome by this desire to raise my own poultry. For the eggs only, of course. I call in reinforcements to kill spiders. I'm pretty sure I won't be up for the carnage of turning semi-pet poultry into nuggets (since that's still the only way my daughter will eat chicken). I mentioned this to my husband, just wondering out loud really, if we were allowed to raise chickens in Arlington.
"NO. Absolutely not! I will not participate in ANY PART in raising livestock!"
Frankly, I thought that was a bit over the top as far as protests go. I mean, livestock? Really? They're just chickens. People keep birds in their houses all the time. And these would be in the back yard. In a coop. (I'm so suburban. I see "coop" and I read "Co-op", as in preschool. haha.)
My aunt Judy used to have a pet chicken. According to my dad (for he's the only one who seems to remember these strange little nuggets of family history on that side), Judy had a pet chicken, and it loved her and hated everyone else. It would actually attack people. An attack chicken. Can you imagine the little warning sign on the front yard? They didn't live on a farm, either. This is was in the suburbs. Or maybe the city. My dad grew up in DC, and then they moved to Springfield (A VA suburb, for those of my 15 who aren't local) at some point, but I don't know when. But either way, it wasn't a farm pet. It was either a city pet or a suburb pet. Granted, it was just one. And I want more than one. I want a coop-ful.
I think raising your own chickens to produce your eggs would be pretty cool! I have never had eggs fresh from under a chicken's tushy, but I've heard that they are really good when they are that fresh. Granted, most of the eggs I've cooked have lingered in my fridge for quite a long time. They are anti-fresh, really (but they peel easier!) So clearly, I wouldn't need that many eggs at any one point.
How hard can it be to raise chickens? We don't really have a wolf problem here, and we wouldn't need that many - just enough so they can keep themselves company. Do you need to have a rooster if you have chickens? Roosters might be a problem. We've been something of a nuisance neighbor for the last year, what with the addition, and the ever present contractor trucks and backhoes. I think a rooster might just be the last straw for my neighbors. Neighbors, I'd like to point out, who have been INCREDIBLY nice about the inconveniences we've put them through. I'm pretty sure that even if I offered them the occasional fresh egg, the rooster might not be acceptable. Which is too bad. Because our bedroom faces the back, and a rooster would be a fantastic alarm clock. (I can hit the snooze button and not even wake up to do it!)
So no rooster. But the chickens... chickens would be cool.
How germy do you think they are? I am a wee bit of a germaphobe (I will save the joys of potty training a child who loves public restrooms for another post). Can you give chickens a bath? I used to have 4 cats, surely bathing chickens can't be any worse than that. It's probably not necessary, though. I mean, you can wash the eggs (when, in the process do you do that? Immediately after capture, or right before cooking?), and you can use hand sanitizer. That should be effective enough, I imagine.
I don't know why I want to do this. It's probably just an extension of my desire, every spring, to grow all my own produce in my own little garden. We did it one year when we lived in Boston (okay, Quincy). We had all these raised organic garden beds, and we grew everything. We had salads every night (tomatoes and lettuce were my big successes). I've tried growing things here, but we had some problems. Squirrels. Raccoons ate my corn. Cicadas ate everything else. (It may have been some other creature, but it was when the cicadas were here, so I'm blaming them anyway.) After that summer, we tore out the garden and put in a swingset.
We're going to try again this year, though. We try every year. I love having a garden. This time, we're going to put it in the front yard, where it will get lots of sun. We're going to grow so many things. Veggies on one side of the yard, flowers on the other. Cucumbers for Ian. Sunflowers for Josie. Green onions for Scott (who is totally on board with the garden stuff). My kids seem so excited about it. I can't wait until we're out there digging in the dirt together, planting everything. I want to get them hooked on the experience. (Yes, this is my fantasy. Because I have done other projects with my children, and I am fairly confident that our 'experience' will also involve much whining, cajoling, and complaining, but that's not part of my fantasy, so it's staying out of the story until it actually happens.)
Someday, when they're much much older, I might tell them about the summer we almost raised chickens.