We had so much fun being one of the Host Coops on the Seattle Tilth City Chicken Coop Tour this weekend. It was a warm sunny day, and there was a very strong turnout, about 150 people came through our backyard during the tour hours. It was great to “talk chicken” with so many wonderful people, most of whom are thinking about chickens, many who already have them and want to “remodel” or see how other folks do things, and many who were just out enjoying the sun and gardens. We passed out the link to the online plans for our coop, which a surprising number of visitors had already seen on this blog.
Among the many lovely people we met were Alison, whose delightful blog called A Bit of Butter features vintage recipes, and Jessi, an ecological landscaper with a beautiful website and a special interest in gardening with chickens. The garden drew almost as much attention as the hens, and the whole day reminded me how the interest in connecting with food and nature through our home lives is such a deep-running current.
Recently there was a long article in the Seattle Times that was rather critical about the recent popularity of backyard chicken-keeping. The author cited concerns about odor, noise, and quoted folks who said things like, “If people want to keep chickens they should live in the country.” In a media frenzy that has played up the positives of urban chickens, I welcome this article as adding some nuance to the choice of whether or not to keep chickens. My hope is that all of us will consider ways to grow some of our own food from home, to find that even in cities we are deeply connected to life and soil. But the worst thing that could happen is for the chicken “trend” to end up being just that–a “trend.” Chickens should not be “The New Black.” It takes more than initial enthusiasm to keep chickens–it takes commitment over time, and occasionally some tough choices (if you are vegetarians like us, what do you do when you chickens stop laying?). That’s one of the reasons we were so happy to be part of the Coop Tour–the very best kind of community event, where people could gather to ask questions, share experience, pet chickens, nibble peas, plan and scheme, see the reality while dreaming big.