commented in these pages on an interesting piece in The New York Times about urban gardening. Now The New Yorker, that most urbane of all periodicals, is getting in on the act. Their staff writer, Susan Orlean, has an article in a recent issue about -- are you ready? -- raising chickens. Technically, Orlean does not live in the city, but in a more rural setting where having a few hens (and a rooster by mistake) does not scandalize the neighbors. But she writes for people with a lot less green space. Even real city folks, she says, can (and maybe should) raise their own poultry.
There are some cities in the U.S. that have ordinances against keeping chickens. And it's not always easy to figure out, or learn, what the rules are where you might live.
Urban chickens need the right equipment, and perhaps the ideal place to start is the Eglu. I don't keep chickens, and I don't plan to, but if I did I would start with an Eglu--simply because it looks like something out of The Jetsons. I'm more interested in raising quail, so I might investigate whether an Eglu can be modified for those much smaller birds. (If I try that, you'll read about it here!)
There must be some kind of urban poultry movement starting, because there are blogs devoted to the subject. (Okay, I know that there are blogs devoted to every subject! My point is--chickens!? in cities!? Who knew?) You can check out TheCityChicken.com, or UrbanChickens.net, or CityChickens.com if you think I'm kidding.
Why would anybody want chickens in the tiny backyard of an Manhattan brownstone, or elsewhere in the concrete jungle? Well, for one thing, they lay eggs, and a couple of nice, fresh eggs every day is not a bad thing. But some people are attracted to these birds as pets: as objects of affection and companions. In other words, we humans seem to have a connection to other living creatures. We enjoy their company, and we care for them and feel affection for them, even if they provide us with no tangible benefits. A couple of hens, scratching at bugs and clucking contentedly in the backyard, renew that connection for us even when our lives are largely alienated from the earth we live on.