For the past few weeks, I’ve been posting about food issues. Last week, I wrote about the Food Sovereignty movement. The prior week, I shared some ideas on how to deal with the emerging global food crisis. This week, I thought I’d suggest a very simple action that almost anyone can take in response to these complex issues, and one that I’ve written about on my “local” blog in the past……. raising backyard hens!
I find that when I spend too much time thinking about the many problems we face today, I can easily slip into a state of despair. At these times, I need to “do something,” and even a simple action often helps. Perhaps it makes no logical sense – but it works! One of my favorite things to do when I’m “down” is to hang out with my backyard hens.
Of course I’ve got to go out to our hen house every day to collect the eggs (even in the coldest weather), so this has become something of a habit for me. It helps me “get real” and relax for a few minutes. I generally bring the “ladies” a gift; sometimes wilted leaves of some old greens, maybe a handful of worms (from my vermiculture bin), maybe a soft tomato or a handful of corn kernels (that I collected from local farm fields after the harvest). The hens get pretty excited when they see me coming out the back door!
I’ve been raising hens in my backyard for years. I don’t live on a farm but in a “normal” suburban neighborhood and I believe this is something almost anyone can do. In addition to the eggs (which I share with my neighbors) I love to watch the ladies scratch, fight, talk strut, play, and “argue” with each other. And the kids in the neighborhood love to come by and visit the girls too.
Let’s all raise hens!
Raising hens is a simple, practical response to the complexity of the global food crisis. By taking small steps toward personal, family, and neighborhood self-sufficiency, we can begin to take more responsibility for our lives. A few eggs each day won’t change the world, but it can change the way we think about the world. It connects us to another creature and reminds us that we are part of a living system. Or at least it can – if we pay attention.
One of the problems of course, is that zoning regulations in some towns make raising hens illegal. I’ll write about my personal experience trying to change these laws in my hometown next week. There seems to be a prejudice among some suburbanites regarding raising chickens in the neighborhood. We know that hens are easier to care for than dogs and cats, and if managed well are not smelly or dirty (as many suburbanites imagine).
The keeping of backyard hens, is an appropriately-scaled, practical and symbolic form of environmental, fiscal, and community sustainability. And its fun and educational for kids!
To give you some idea on what it might be like to have hens in your backyard, have a look at this fun and instructional video.
To help you get started, I’ve compiled a few resources that I share with my friends.
- An article on why to raise chickens
- A list of useful resources (links to more links)
- The City Chicken (a fun and useful web page)
- An excellent and simple description on how to raise hens
- A hen cartoon (check it out)
I’d appreciate it if you would share this post with your friends. And for more ideas, videos and challenges along these lines, please join my Facebook Group; Just Food Now. And go here for more of my World.edu posts.
And if you happen to live in Western Massachusetts, join us for a workshop on Raising Backyard Hens on April 2, 2011!