Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sometimes You've Just Got to Say, What the Cluck

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.

Originally uploaded by Dave-F

(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.


  1. Given that your luck is so good, I am not so sure chickens are a good idea.
    My friend Rachel has chickens and she has really good luck! She loves to talk about the chickens (and growing stuff) and has good ideas about whatever it is chickens live in. Her blog is here and you can just type "chickens" in her search box.

  2. That reminds me of the song they used to do on Hee Haw (shut up, my parents watched it) ... woe, despair and agony on me ... if it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all ...

    And hey-I LIKE the new hair.

  3. Dude, I have enough criminals in my life. Not you too...

  4. Goats are goooood eatin' and they'll clear all the weeds from your lot, give you goat fertilizer and goat milk. Yum. I'm talking to the C-Man right now and I'm encouraging him to up the ante on the chicken ranch. I've currently got eight gals, down from 17 and a rooster (good eatin'). With only six birds you won't get enough eggs to eat regularly, especially if you want to bake with eggs.

  5. Get bees, too! Great for upping the productivity of your fruits and vegetables (and you get great local honey, which is costing $15 a pound at the store!! and is good for 'immunizing' you against local pollen allergies).


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