Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do you have chickens?

Happy spring! Temperatures today reached into the mid 70's and it was fantastic. I think all of Seattle was in a good mood. Winter has finally lifted, the days are long, and there are blooms everywhere. That's all fabulous, but the most exciting thing to happen this spring for me, has been our new chickens! They are such sweet birds, and their eggs are incredibly rich.

Poor Marilyn got caught and had to pose for a picture with me.
I gave her a shrimp as a thank you present!

Do you have chickens? If so, how many? What do you feed them? How old are they?

We purchased one-year-old birds, so as to go directly to the laying phase of their lives, and to avoid the difficulty of chicks. We got them from a teenage boy in Lynwood who has clearly turned a hobby into a small business. I love the idea of supporting a young entrepreneur. We named the girls after talented women who died before their prime: Billie, Marilyn, Janis, and Whitney. Originally we had Amy too, but she died. We're not sure why, but we understand that that happens sometimes. It was sad and disappointing, but we're not too upset about it.

The cool thing is that we are sharing the hens with our next door neighbors. It's totally fun and easy to have another couple to share the responsibility with. Plus, we've gotten to know our neighbors much better through this experience. I really love it. We've discovered that four hens is probably the minimum we'd want to share between four adults, so we're looking into getting a few more. Any suggestions for what to name them?

Of course we've been eating eggs like crazy these days. Here are some eats from this weekend:

Look at how tall that yolk stands up. 
Saturday morning's breakfast was rice and beans, and sautéed radish greens, with a fried egg on top. Yumm!

Later in the weekend we made these baguette sandwiches: hard boiled eggs, charred asparagus, pickled shallots, mustard & olive oil, and fresh spring herbs. Dill would have been nice, but I don't have it growing, so I used chives, parsley, and mint.

Do you raise chickens, or ducks, or other "livestock" in the city? We have bees at our Alleycat Acres Beacon Hill site, but someone else takes care of them (Bob Redmond of urban bee company).
What is your experience? I'd love to know. I'm very curious about raising livestock for meat. Have you done it?


  1. Fabulous Kate ! You know now there is a controversy brewing in Lexington Virginia over the legalization of chicken raising in town. Any comments on whether you think it is good for a town to make it legal to raise hens within city limits? One member of council seems to think it will negatively affect real estate prices, but a prominent real estate agent has refuted that. Your comments on this would be very helpful ! I might write a letter to Lex city council and quote you as an expert.

    1. Goodness, what a stupid controversy! What will they think of next? I think every third or fourth house in my neighborhood keeps chickens. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it sure seems that way. A neighbor up the street even keeps rabbits for meat, and another keeps ducks. The ducks are super cute!
      All the animals are a totally charming part of our neighborhood, and way less of a nuisance than our beloved cats and dogs! If someone can tell me how to keep Guthrie from peeing on my sage plant, or how to keep the neighbors cats from using my raised beds as litter boxes please let me know! In the mean time I chalk it up to part of city life. Really not all that bad. I'm certainly no expert, but in a way I can see urban animal husbandry as a way of bringing neighbors closer together. My neighbors with chickens have been helpful with advise, and of course everybody loves fresh eggs. In Seattle we can keep goats too. Wouldn't fresh goats cheese be wonderful?

  2. as you know, we raise CHICKENS! let me know if you want any chicken website links. they can be very helpful, especially for when weird things happen. have fun with your ladies. oh, and i suggest Natalie (wood), Sharon (tate), Anna Nicole, and Selena, FWIW.

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  4. Love it! I've always wanted to raise chickens...but without a backyard it's just not possible. One day!
    I have some books on backyard chicken-raising, perhaps I should send them to you!
    By the way, your photos are beautiful!

    1. Thanks for the photo compliment!
      A back yard would certainly be helpful, to say the least :)
      You know, if you move to Seattle a back yard would be WAY easier to come by than in Boston. Nudge, nudge...
      Miss you Jess!!!!

  5. Hi Kate, I just stumbled across your blog (following a link on columnar apple trees) and liked it so much I kept reading. I am moved to comment on your chickens entry as I just moved home to Adelaide Australia and my husband and I are staying at his parents place where they've always kept chickens. I'm loving collecting the eggs and feeding them scraps. There are only a few eggs a day from two hens & I wanted to try something a friend told me. She house sat for a few houses with chickens and told me about 'fluffing' them to increase egg production. Do you know about this already? She said it's when you 'pretend to be the rooster', so ahem, crouch behind them and make little chook 'took took' noises and bob up and down like a chook, then if they are receptive they will kind of fluff up and get excited, then you can gently tug on their tails a few times. They think this is the rooster giving them some 'loving' and get really happy and excited. She swears by it to increase egg laying & I'm trying to give it a go too!