Day 262: Cluck Cluck Cluck

henIt’s official! Vancouver has joined the ranks of such municipalities as Seattle and Victoria and has voted to allow the keeping of backyard hens.

Now, you may think that I am just jumping on the hot new trend of urban chicken keeping, but I assure you my interest is genuine.  Ever since Almost Mrs. Average at the Rubbish Diet bought her Eglu I’ve been pondering a life of fresh, waste-free eggs.

Of course there are the usual animals rights arguments against it (ie people will take even worse care of chickens than they do of their dogs), not to mention the potential for raccoon and coyote backyard bonanzas and worries about noisy clucking.

But I think it’s important to note that just because it’s legal doesn’t mean every latte-sipping trendster is going to hop on board.

For one thing, chickens smell.  Don’t tell me they don’t; all animals smell.  And something tells me that the average person just might not want to be mucking about with chicken poo in their spare time whilst saving a few cents per egg.

What it really means is that those few underground hen keepers can now proudly show their flock (of up to 3) without being slapped with a $2000 fine.  That’s right, drive erratically or vandalize all you want; nothing compares to the stiff penalty for raising fresh, wholesome eggs in your own backyard.

Grant, of course, is quite keen on the fresh eggs thing, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for the daily commitment.  I mean, what do you do when it’s -20 below?  I think I’ll have to do some research.

And what do you do with them after they stop laying?  You can’t simply slaughter chickens out there beside the veggie patch (I can see the food-safe people starting to hyperventilate right now).  Anyway, the by-law is not about chickens for food, it’s about hens for eggs.

On the other hand, you also don’t want to have infertile birds, past their prime, roaming around, eating food and giving nothing in return (I mean, isn’t that the cat’s job?  Just kidding, Gato: love and affection is all we  require in return for that high end beef-in-gravy dinner).

So, in summary, I guess I’m one of those cheering “YAY, we’re allowed chickens” while sitting firmly on the fence as to whether I’d actually want to be a small scale hen keeper myself.

In theory it sounds wonderful and easy and makes me want to get a goat or two for good measure.  In reality, we have unpredictable schedules, go away a lot on the weekends, and live in a rental house.  And I haven’t yet asked the landlord . . . . or the cat.

8 Comments

Filed under Around the house, composting

8 responses to “Day 262: Cluck Cluck Cluck

  1. kate

    yesssss this is so exciting!
    I see your reservations, though I don’t think going away for a couple days is bad for chickens, and it is never -20 in vancouver! I would mostly be worried about mice and raccoons getting in. plus, they need some space to run around outside too. we should convince mom and dad to get some.

  2. Claire

    don’t you also have to have a rooster around so they actually lay eggs?? i could be wrong, but if you’re worried about the noise factor, oy!

  3. Claire

    okay after a few minutes of research i see you don’t have to have a rooster!

  4. We’ve had out chickens for 2 weeks and they’re doing brilliantly. I was worried about cleaning out their poo (memories of childhood), but we had a real top tip from another hen-keeper which was to add bokashi bran to their feed and sprinkle the bokashi bran into their poop tray, which sits under the roosting bars in the eglu. So that’s what we’ve done and it’s true, it doesn’t smell bad at all. I was amazed. Yay on relaxing the laws in Vancouver. Great news😀 x

  5. Kate- sadly, it isn’t a Metro Vancouver thing, it’s City of Vancouver thing, and since Mom and Dad aren’t within the City limits, don’t get your hopes up of chickens over there any time soon.

    Claire-you’re correct, no rosters necessary, but I have been reading quite a bit about the smell.

    Mrs AA- Thanks for the tip. If you have other animals, how does the work of caring for your chickens compare? When our ‘buy nothing’ rules end, I am all over getting a bokashi bin as well! Also, the Eglu looks really small. Do they really have enough space in there?

  6. LOL – I find the chickens easier to care for than my cats😀

    On the eglu front, the unit is perfect if you are able to let the hens out into the garden for a big part of the day. If you can’t let them out, it could be deemed as being too small, unless you get another extension to the run.

    But we let our hens out just before midday and they then spend all foraging in the garden until dusk when they automatically go off to bed back into the eglu. When they’re sleeping, the three of them all huddle together quite closely and only use up half of their roosting accomodation. So there is plenty of room in there for them to get by each other and lay eggs.

    When you get a mo – do pop over and pick up an award at my Awards Ceremony which I held last night. You’ll find it in the healthy competition category. Please feel free to polish and share😀 xx

  7. Uncle Ted

    Just remember the chickens at Hornby before you do anything rash.

    • Ted, you’re right. That is in the back of my mind, but I’m not planning on leaving fruits and veggies laying around the back yard. (we had neighbours at our family cabin who put their chick coop practically on the property line and fed their hens leftover veggies and food scraps. Let me tell you the combo of rotting food and chicken poo was pungent. Then someone’s dog snuck in and ate them.)

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