Yes, Ann Arbor City Chickens have arrived, and there's already a Facebook support group for interested parties. A couple of weeks ago, I went to the great workshop that Matthaei offered on Yard Hens, where I learned about everything from chicken tractors and egg mash to Silverlace Wyandottes and nest boxes. Under the new chicken ordinance, people who want to have up to four hens just have to convince the neighbors to sign a consent form before setting up a sweet little chicken condo, at least 10 feet from their property lines and 40 feet from their neighbors houses. Oh, and then pay $20 for the permit.
The level of commitment seems to be about the same as for having an outdoor, all-season pet. It's a bummer that traveling just a little too often means we're probably not going to be able to get our own backyard chickens right away. It's one thing to have friends come over to feed the cat, but it's another to ask them to gather eggs, round up the flock, and muck out the henhouse. However, I'm REALLY hoping that some of our neighbors will go for it.
Even if they're not from my own chickens, I still love to eat and bake with super fresh eggs. I'm not sure whether I'm imagining it or just paying more attention lately, but it seems like eggs are increasingly available from local farmers and other people who have been seduced by the sexy, sexy chickens in the Murray McMurray rare breed catalog. Who cares - the result is lots of places to get fresh eggs!
It seems like pretty much everyone has free-range birds (not caged) and some, like Back Forty Acres, are even using chicken tractors. But organic chicken feed is apparently quite expensive, so certified organic eggs are harder to come by. Most places are selling eggs in the range of $2.50 - $3.50 per dozen.
I can personally recommend the excellent Dragonwood eggs (they deliver to Ann Arbor) and Our Family Farm's eggs (at the Farmer's Market Saturdays all winter), but I'm guessing they're all pretty darn good.
Eggs at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market from:
- Ernst Farm
- Grandma's Kitchen
Also find eggs at:
- Dexter Farm Supply (also has baby chicks, seasonally)
Read more about the Urban Chicken Craze: