For the average green blog I have probably written extensively about my love of goats (and strawberries). Did you know I also love chickens? As a kid we had chickens, I helped my Dad feed them, broke the ice on their water in the Winter and I helped to eat their eggs for breakfast. All and all I never thought much about having chickens. As the years grew on our chickens grew old and eventually my Dad decided to cut back on his animal husbandry, and since their last two cats have passed on, my parents now own ZERO animals (for the first time in over 30 years).
But I digress. I love chickens. Or more specifically I love the yellow, golden, creamy yolks that are found inside eggs harvested fresh from hand raised chickens. So does my 16 month old son. When I scramble up a fresh egg from the chickens at Ollin Farms, my son gobbles up ever last bite. When I serve him up a pale grocery store egg even a cage free omega filled Nest Fresh egg he gets a little peckish. He eats a few bites and leaves the rest.
The average omnivore might think that I am imagining things, but I happen to be a taste connoisseur. I can copy recipes pretty good simply by tasting them (no recipe in hand). When I taste wine (or chocolate or coffee) I can honestly taste the spice, the bloom, the black cherry, the grapefruit. I KNEW when Cline Vineyards sold out and changed the grapes going into their Red Truck table wine, but it wasnt until over a year later that I finally got confirmation that the Red Truck of 5 years ago is not the same Red Truck vinted today. In other words, I am absolutely certain, that fresh farm eggs TASTE BETTER than factory farmed eggs, even Certified Humane, but still factory farmed eggs.
However, fresh farm (urban or country) eggs not only taste better, they are better for you. In fact any animal product that comes from an animal that eats a natural diet, getting in some greens (usually grass), some bugs or other foods from nature, has a different balance of fats and proteins than the same animal products factory farmed cousins. Wild venison, grass fed beef, and eggs from the little farm down the road are characterized by an increase in Omega 3 fats, a decrease in Saturated fats, and an increase in lean protein. This is because similar to the obese American, modern livestock were not meant to live on corn and soy. Corn and soy may fill you up and out, but growth in itself is not always good. Especially growth that involves excess fat.
But again, I digress, so back to chickens. I love farm chickens (urban or country) for their quirky personality, the beauty of their plumage and their ability to bond with small children. In fact, 4-H recommends that kids who want to get involved in livestock, but who have little experience raise poultry. We are what we eat (literally) and yet our culture is frighteningly disconnected from our food. Many today cant cook from scratch or think that cooking from scratch means opening a boxed mix and adding eggs and oil. Others dont even bother to use their kitchen allowing strangers to feed them 3 square (or not so square) meals per day.
And thus, perhaps I should not be in total shock that my city (Longmont, CO) is coming upon strong resistance when it comes to approving an ordinance to allow urban chickens. And yet, surrounding cities, which are arguably MORE urban than Longmont (Boulder, Denver & Fort Collins) already allow urban chickens. As does the great city of New York (seriously), as well as, other hip towns like Portland and Seattle.
For some reason, a good number of probably nice folks in Longmont, think that the approval of the urban hen will send Longmont to the dogs. Others are afraid that chickens will attract predators like fox and coyotes, which already happen to live in good numbers in our city (I see a fox and coyote on a regular basis in Longmont). Others think chickens smell (they dont) or that they are noisy (roosters are, but not chickens). Whats more they are concerned about the mess.
Cooped chickens dont poop in their neighbors yard and they dont bark at raccoons after midnight; however, they do provide those yummy, golden yolks that my family genuinely appreciates. Now given all this, I am not sure that I personally am prepared to start my own little brood of laying hens, but I do think that I should have the legal right to do so. If the ordinance is not approved, I will mark it down as another strike in my book against Longmont. (Badly maintained bike paths and sidewalks, lack of safe bike routes for families, lack of good public transportation, and no alcohol at city sponsored events are other strikes in my book.) In other words, when it comes time for my son to start Kindergarten in a few years and we come up on our familys deadline to reassess whether we stay or movethe ability to raise chickens will weigh in more heavily than you might assume.
If I can have chickens in Lafayette, Boulder, Niwot, Erie, Denver, Loveland or Fort Collins why should I not be able to keep them in Longmont? And if most of these cities also have better public transportation, bikeways and pedestrian ways, then we will likely move. Honestly, Longmont, by not supporting this ordinance, you are being a stick in the mud!
What can we do?
Well, the Crunchy Domestic Goddess has started a Chicken Crusade and I am happily going a long for the ride. In a few days we should have a site up (Longmont Urban Hens) and we are working to organize anyone and everyone who supports urban hens in Longmont to show up at the City Council meeting in December. In addition, if you live in Longmont and support urban hens, please dont delay in writing our city council members and tell them why they need to approve the urban hen ordinance. You can find Longmont City Council contact info (includin email addresses) behind this link. In general we are looking to be as POSITIVE about chickens as possible. We also want to educate folks about the realities of raising chickens (the good and the bad), while acknowledging that urban hens are as much pets as they are providers of yummy eggs.