Four Things I Learned About Urban Poultry

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Urban Poulty at Somerville's Relish

I had to introduce myself, like everyone else in the room. That’s how meet ups work, friends. Sadly, I didn’t have much to contribute in terms of a great response.

“Hi, my name is Dave, I write for local blog We Love Beantown, I’m here because our friends at Eventbrite encouraged me to check out something completely different in town as part of our partnership. I don’t own any chickens, I’ve never really thought about owning chickens and I don’t know if I will any time soon.”

Over the next hour of the Backyard Chicken Keepers meetup at Somerville’s Relish, hosted by the Chickeness herself, Khrysti Smyth of Yardbirds Backyard Chickens, I learned plenty – maybe not enough to change my mind, but at least some fun facts – that I think make for a fun little story and education this Monday.

Urban Poulty at Somerville's Relish

Lesson 1: Somerville is zoned with the urban agriculture crew in mind, in fact, it’s the first UrbAg zone in the commonwealth (although, as noted last week, Boston is getting there). What does this actually mean? Well, it provides protections for people who want to do things like grow veg and own bees or chickens for production, but also clear regulations and guidelines to make good neighbors – the ABCs if you will, for Agriculture, Bees and Chickens. Among licensing, ensuring proper conditions and making sure enough space is built in from fences and houses, it also allows Somervilleans access to sell excess produce even in front of their own homes.

Lesson 2: Coopmaking is not to be taken lightly. There are significant considerations from shade to security from predators to cage cleaning that need to be addressed before you build a coop, and those plans need to be certified. You can go to a crazy amount of places online for tips, or you can take the easy way out and ORDER A CHICKEN COOP AT WILLIAMS SONOMA ARE YOU SERIOUS? No, but seriously, take your chicken coopmaking seriously – you could go black market, but why? Best resource to start?, a pretty legit, 200,000 person strong community of chicken keepers.

Lesson 3: You build connections with your chickens, but there are tough conversations to be had, just like with any animal that may become part of your home. Sure, there are old sayings like, “If they’re non layin’, they’re not payin'” in regards to how a chicken makes its keep, but as backyard agriculture comes into play, these animals do get closer and closer to the pet zone. Animal control won’t help you, though, if you’re looking for a way to part with your bird that isn’t of your own two hands. Tough conversations will be had, and that comes with owning an animal – know what you’re getting into not just for the maintenance but also for how the story may end.

Urban Poulty at Somerville's Relish

Lesson 4: Chicken puns are really easy. Yes, all eggs taste the same, but the proper response is not, “Tastes like chicken.” And don’t say that a chicken on the loose is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. That’s tasteless and tacky syntax. So, save them for yourself if you decide to check out the Backyard Chickens meet ups around Somerville. I have to say, Relish was a great host and it was pretty cool to see the community around something I didn’t even know existed.

Our participation in this event was through our sponsored-relationship with Eventbrite Boston, who covered the costs of our attendance. Eventbrite enables people all over the world to plan, promote, and sell out any event. They make it easy to set up online event registration and sell tickets online as well as discover awesome events in Boston. Post your event, send invitations, collect online payments, track ticket sales and more-all in one place.