It’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.