“Backyard chickening” alive and well in Chicago

With everything else going on in my life, I haven’t been writing much about my chickens and the community of chicken keepers here in Chicago. There have been a lot of good things happening in this area, so I thought I’d give a quick summary.

First, an update on the stuff that has been happening in my own little flock. The days are definitely lengthening and the hens are responding accordingly: more eggs!

I don’t get to see my chickens every day now that I’m living at my sister’s house, but I do stop by my house regularly to check on them and the dogs and to clean up the coop. (Mark is doing a good job keeping everyone fed and watered, but he doesn’t do clean up duty.) So, I get to pull eggs out of the nestbox occasionally and I can attest to at least one 3-egg day.

I know that one of the layers is Speedy, my sole Delaware pullet, as her eggs are still the smallest. Maisy is definitely one of the other layers. She has always been my most reliable laying hen, and even with the short day length and her molt she continued to provide me with an egg about every other day. I’m not certain if the third one laying is Selma or Betty, but I was glad to notice that Selma’s comb and wattles are getting larger and redder again, signaling that she is pretty much done with her molt now. So, she could be laying, too.

Around Chicago, there have been great strides made in building a community of chicken keepers and advocates for chicken keeping.

  • Angelic Organics Learning Center held a sold-out workshop last November on Basic Backyard Chicken care. I attended and brought Maisy along so folks could get a look at a real, live hen.
  • Another Basic Backyard Chicken Care workshop is planned for March, and is nearly sold out already. I’ll be there again, this time as a presenter. (!)
  • A positive outcome of the first workshop was the establishment of a Google Group to enable folks to connect with each other. (I think the group is open and anyone can visit it, but I’m not sure.) Through the group we’re tracking advocates, and strategizing how to make sure chicken keeping stays legal in all wards in Chicago, as well as talking about ways we can organize a feed co-op and generally sharing tips.
  • Healthy Dining newsletter just published an article about raising backyard chickens, featuring a few words from moi and a good photo of Marshall, my “accidental” rooster.
  • I’ll also be interviewed about keeping chickens in the city next Tuesday, February 10, on a new Chicago Public Radio initiative called Vocalo.org. The interview will be streamed live through their website www.vocalo.orgat around 7 AM CST, as well as on the air at 89.5 FM. It should be available via podcast, too.

See, quite a bit is happening! With spring just around the corner, I expect there will be much more going on and plenty to keep us urban chicken folk busy!

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