Over the weekend, I read this article in the Washington Post about chickens being the cool addition to your backyard.
In cities across the United States, raising backyard poultry has suddenly become as chic as growing your own vegetables. It's all part of the back-to-the-land movement whose proponents want to save on grocery bills, take control of their food supply and reduce the carbon footprint of industrial agriculture.
The urban homesteading movement got a huge symbolic boost this spring when the first family installed a 1,100-square-foot vegetable garden at the White House. Poultry is the natural next step in the sustainable back yard; chickens produce eggs, devour kitchen scraps and add manure to the compost pile.
"Chickens are America's cool new pet," said Dave Belanger, publisher of the magazine Backyard Poultry. When he launched it three years ago, "we were thinking 15 to 20 thousand" subscriptions, he said. The print run for the bimonthly is now 100,000.
Belanger's magazine is published in Wisconsin, where five years ago chicken activists in Madison succeeded in getting the city council to reverse a ban on chicken coops. Madison's ordinance is typical of other cities'. You can raise chickens for eggs, not meat; they must be enclosed in a coop or run; and it's strictly a hen party: Roosters who crow day and night are prohibited