Friday, February 24, 2012

Urban farming

I spent my summers on my grandparents farm in Marysville. This rural farm was the backdrop to a herd of Herefords, one ornery bull, the occasional pig, and chickens - lots and lots of chickens. My chore was to gather the eggs every morning. Being a suburbanite, entering a smelly coop and fighting off a brood of agitated hens in search of just laid eggs was not something I relished first thing in the morning. But my grandmother was a dear and I couldn't tell her I would rather muck the barn than face a bunch of pecking hens.


Sitting around the breakfast table, morning chores behind us, I couldn't help think how different these eggs tasted. I knew it wasn't her cooking - a product of the depression, grandma Black used too much salt and always overcooked her meals.

Around the corner from my home is a relatively new business Portage Bay Grange. This is a family run business with a mission to provide supplies, services and support for urban farmers. They accomplish this in their old fashion feed store in the heart of Seattle. It's a neat place to stop in, even if you're not ready to start farming.

But if you are thinking about it here are some great reasons that just might push you over the fence!


Farm Fresh Eggs - if you've never eaten fresh eggs you are in for a treat. Not only do they taste richer, creamier and just plain better, they are better for you. They have less cholesterol, less saturated fat, more Vitamin A, Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and Beta-carotene. Not to mention the egg shells are just gorgeous!

Teach Responsibility with pets that stay outside - whether it's gathering the eggs or cleaning out the coop there is work to be done every day. Making sure they are fed, watered and locked in at night are all important jobs that must be done in order to keep the hens healthy and safe. Not to mention, these clucky animals stay outdoors keeping the interior of your home feather free.

Create a self-sustaining life - Although there are some initial costs for the chicks and the coop, once you are up and running, the only expense is the feed and straw. Plus, it's exciting to know that you will have food no matter what happens.

Backyard entertainment - these 'girls' are fun to watch, especially when the feed bucket shows up.

Enrich your garden - chickens are great for the garden, They love to eat the bugs and grubs in the dirt that aren't always so great for your plants and their droppings are loaded in nitrogen which is wonderful for your garden.

Earn a little money or give farm fresh gifts - At over $4 a dozen for organic eggs, a few dozen farm fresh eggs is quite the treat for any cook.

Reduce waste - keep a bucket in the kitchen for fruit and vegetable scraps, they'll eat it right up.

Teach science lessons - kids learn by what they experience. Keeping chickens is a great lesson in where our food comes from to reproduction.

No rooster needed - You don't need a rooster to keep backyard chickens. They lay eggs just fine without them. These eggs won't hatch into chickens but most are just fine with that. Plus you'll stay on better terms with your neighbors sans the morning wake up call of a rooster.

Now that you know the benefits of having backyard chickens you might want to see how best to house them....of course, being a real estate agent I couldn't post just any old coop. I searched the net and found coops to match any style home and most with more curb appeal than my own home! Check these out.












For City of Seattle ordinance information on urban farming, click here.

I hope to see you at Portage Bay Grange.

Until next time.

la chasse au bonheur

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