One of the goals of living in this house is to produce as much of our own food as possible. There's enough space--really more than enough space--for an expansive vegetable garden. (My husband is a canning fiend-how many men do you know who have their own pressure canners and love to use them?) We've planted four citrus trees and four pomegranate bushes already, and have tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and corn going in some temporary raised beds we put in so we could feel like we were making progress while waiting for the permits. Once we move in this weekend, I'm going to clear out the bed that runs along the cinderblock wall separating us from the funeral home next door (yeah, funeral home next door. They held services for John Steinbeck there before his ashes were interred at a local cemetery) and start planting the berry bushes that eventually will cover the wall. I'll start the herbs going as well--I've gotten some good advice from the folks at Rocket Farms. The water department is coming next week to install the new water main, and once that's done we'll start working on the drip irrigation system for the beds that eventually will cover the entire front yard.
And we want chickens. Urban chickens. We got fairly spoiled living around the block from Fred Dodsworth, who along with his wife Linda has a very active egg operation going in their backyard. But urban chickens were no big deal in Berkeley; it wasn't unusual to see one that had escaped from its yard and gone wandering down the street. There were far weirder things to see in Berkeley.
(Photo used with permission under a Creative Commons' license.)
Fresh eggs are out of this world. Nothing compares, at least nothing you can buy in a store. And so it is with a heavy heart that I make the following proclamation: I am about to become an urban chicken outlaw. Because in the city of Salinas, there are no chickens allowed--at least not in my mixed-use neighborhood. (Meth labs? No worries. Illegal car repair shops? They turn a blind eye. Urban chickens? You're a scofflaw.)
I understand completely that noise and smell are concerns. We only have one living neighbor, Mike the Sprinkler guy, with whom we share a fence on the north side of the house. The three houses next to his are all empty and in foreclosure. On our other side is the funeral home, behind us is an alley, and across the alley is one restaurant and a bunch of shops. We're not planning on roosters, and fewer than a half dozen laying hens for eggs, with the coop positioned in the rear yard adjacent to the alley.
It's not a matter of "if you do it right, you can have them" as far as the city is concerned. We're going to seek out a conditional use permit, because I believe in following the process just to amuse myself. We'll lobby the city council, we'll seek the CUP, but in the end, we're probably going to become illegal chicken ranchers.
They're lucky Chuck won't actually let me get a goat.