Filed under: Backyard Chickens, Buy Local, Canning, Community Building, Community Gardens, Food Storage, Food Waste, Frugality, Local Food, organic gardening, Peak Oil, Plant based diet, Reducing Waste, Resilience, Slow Food, Sustainability, Urban Hens | Tags: growing food
I’m going to try something new, in this newish month of this New Year. For the rest of January, I plan to write about everybody’s favorite subject-FOOD! We’ll discuss seasonal eating, growing and preserving tips, local food, plant-based recipes, nutrition, food costs, food waste, food storage, and…well, you get the idea. I may run out of month before I run out of topics!
Michael and I have kept track of all of our expenses since Day One. So after a dozen years of tracking, we know what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not. We’re seeing an upward trend in our monthly food costs, and in trying to figure out why, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all aspects of our food, which is why I thought this may be a good month to write about all things foody. I’m betting many of us have resolved to eat less, spend less, waste less, cook more, or in some way do something different where our food is concerned. May these January posts inspire or in some way be helpful to you.
Before I get into any specifics though, I have some wonderful news to crow about. The friend that co-founded the local C.O.O.P. group with me last year received a letter today from the city that said in part: “Thank you for helping resolve the complaints we received. My codes officers tell me they see no health issues at this time…therefore I will close this case.” I was with Emily last Friday when the zoning code/public health officers came to her house to inspect her chicken coop and hens. As always, the hens were clean, quiet, and happily enclosed in their predator proof, moveable chicken tractor. He couldn’t find one.single.problem. He took a picture, and left postcards at her neighbors’ homes informing them of her chickens’ presence in her backyard (they already knew it though) and said he’d be back this summer to further ensure there are no smells. This small revolution is a HUGE HUGE victory in our city folks, and gives new meaning to the terms “Local Food”, “Sustainability”, and “Resilient” for those of us that want nothing more than to put food on our family’s dinner plates. (Or breakfast plates, as the case may be.) 😉 If you are inclined to get your own little flock, please please follow all the rules so that you don’t run aFOWL and ruin it for the rest of us that want to enjoy our own backyard flocks too. Here are some simple and common sense things to remember:
1. NO roosters!
2. Maximum 4 hens
3. Hens cannot be allowed to run loose, they MUST be in an enclosed area, with a MINIMUM of 4 square feet per bird
3. Feed (grains, scratch, etc) must be stored in a galvanized steel can with a tight-fitting lid, secured with a bungee if necessary
4. No slaughtering of birds
5. Scoop the poop and keep the roosts and nest areas clean
6. Build your coop like Fort Knox or raccoons, dogs and other critters WILL dig under and kill them. Chicken wire is NOT a suitable barrier between your ‘girls’ and predators. Use hardware cloth instead.
7. Be respectful of your neighbors. Talk with them before you get your hens, educate and inform them, and by all means, share eggs with them! Consider carefully the location of your coop and run area, so that the birds are comfortable and accessible, yet are not looking into your neighbors’ bedroom or kitchen! (All this is to say, once again, that building community with your neighbors is the single best way to help you both transition to a future of climate changes and rising food or oil prices)
8. Attend the free, on-going chicken care classes that Emily and I will be teaching throughout the year. The next one will be held at Mize Farm and Garden, in Johnson City, on Saturday, Feb. 2nd, at 10 AM. Please register beforehand by calling the store: 434-1800
One final word about this initial C.O.O.P. victory: this first-time inspection and approval is fragile and will have to be REconsidered if there are any neighbor complaints. I encourage you to seek out and support those candidates in the upcoming commissioner elections that will support our local food efforts. We’ll also be monitoring the ongoing city code revisions that are currently being considered and will let you know if the current code regarding hens in the backyard comes up for ‘discussion’. Next post: What’s for supper?
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