Thursday, January 27, 2011

What the Cluck?

[Here's a post I prepared for my neighbor's blog, The Chicken Project. Not sure when she plans to post it. I will include a link when it's up.]

While that’s not the response from everyone who discovers my neighbors raise chickens – a number of folks are surprised to learn we live next door to chickens – and like it!

Most of those surprised by the news have read about urban farmers in local newspapers. They assume incorrectly that urban chicken farmers are confined to “The City” where all those crazy urban trends flourish. These folks are surprised to learn you can raise chickens in Roseville.

I enjoy having chickens next door for a number of reasons. You usually don’t hear them as the noise of everyday life tends to overpower their quite clucking, but it’s always a treat to step out on the deck in the early morning with the dog and hear the chickens clucking away. It’s a quiet sort of noise, peaceful like a babbling brook.

Chickens are also fun to watch – kind of like a spectator sport. When they are let out of the pen to run around the yard they eat bugs, and pick around in the dirt taking dust baths. They seldom stray far, and are (usually) rounded-up easily.

Of course, the chickens are not always quiet. They squawk some, usually when a possible intruder is nearby. Sometimes squirrels set them off, other times it’s a raptor sitting in a nearby tree. (Watching penned-in chickens must drive raptors crazy – so close, but so far.) But when they squawk, it’s not nearly as loud as barking dogs, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, or other hazards of suburban living.

And of course – there are the eggs. These eggs come from truly free range chickens. On occasion, I’ve cooked with eggs still warm from the hen. We once cracked two eggs in a bowl – one from the co-op (no slouch for producing good eggs) and one from McNeal chickens. The yolk of the McNeal egg was a much deeper yellow – almost orange – and huge. I’m told that’s because of the high protein content. These chickens really like their bugs.

We also enjoy showing off the chickens to visiting friends and relatives. They are a big hit with the under age 5 crowd.

Living next to chickens is a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.
I’ll finish with this fun historical fact: According to the 1931 Farm Holdings map of Roseville our homes are located on the site of an old 30 acre poultry (turkey) farm – plot 206. It’s destiny that the McNeals raise chickens!

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