We all love “the Coop” but, what it meant to anyone in town prior to the days of ‘shelter in place’ (a nickname for local restaurant and watering hole “The Cooperage”) was not what it soon would mean. It would literally mean “chicken coops”. And, while there has always been a healthy “what the cluck?” contingent of people in the Lamorinda area, questions skyrocketed about how to become more self-sufficient in small, easy ways - and one of those ways proved to be chickens, eggs, and all that come with them.
The great baking boom of 2020’s coronavirus outbreak has left many of us without a source for eggs and gazing longingly at our neighbor’s hens. Before you get all foxy and start stealing from other people’s coops, consider the interesting and very productive hobby of chicken keeping. Raising egg-laying hens has become a popular suburban past-time and many locals started by taking a class from longtime urban farming expert and local treasure Papa John Kiefer. Since our Shelter in Place rules are restricting Papa John’s in-person classes, visit his site for downloadable information on building coops and keeping chickens: Chickens with Papa John. Another resource is the #1 website in the country for chicken expertise, BackYard Chickens - Learn How to Raise Chickens | BackYard Chickens - Learn How to Raise Chickens which was founded by Bay Area entrepreneur Rob Ludlow. Rob was one of our early community advocates for keeping backyard chickens. These resources will provide all you need to know to prep for chicks, build your coop, and maintain a healthy flock.
If you are looking for a local group of chicken aficionados to engage with around chicken raising tips and inspiration, join the newly formed private FB group CLUCK, an acronym for Citizens of Lamorinda United in Chicken Keeping. If your children are interested in learning about raising chickens, sign your wee ones up for Lamorinda 4-H and join in on the Chicken Project. No need to own your own chickens for this project, but if you want to enjoy the eggs you will most likely re-consider. Sign-ups for 4-H occur in early fall. With so much to offer, you can expand your knowledge of livery extensively by getting involved - but, let’s focus on the ‘meat’ of the article. More resources that are ‘hand clucked’ include: a book called RAISE, What 4-H teaches 7 million kids. The Berkeley writer Kiera Butler wrote about several local 4-H families and what the program means in regard to sustainability and food security.
Is Chicken Keeping even legal? Well, thanks to lobbying by many local chicken lovers, citizens can now keep a certain number of chickens based on parcel size. Before you commit, be sure to read your local ordinances. Click here for Lafayette, here for Orinda and here for Moraga. Most importantly, be a good chicken neighbor and NO ROOSTERS.
Concord Feed has all of your chicken supply needs such as basic coops, feed, watering systems, feeders and such, and remains open during our SIP with reduced hours. They are not selling chicks currently as their hatchery (April 2020) has sold out due to the recent “stress buying” as reported by the New York Times. Cackle Hatchery is still shipping chicks, but with longer lead times than usual.
Finally, we Lamorindan’s love our homes and the same goes for our Chicken Coops. While you are at home “nesting” , get a little Coop inspiration here: Pinterest Coops. If you want a custom designed Hen House, reach out to our local Handymen at Lamorinda Odd jobs, or a search on Nextdoor can point you to others with the skill set to have a custom Coop built.
Owning Chickens is a relatively easy and enjoyable past-time if taken seriously. Happy backyard chickens lay eggs that are nutritious and delicious, PLUS you know where your food is coming from. Go ahead, let your pets make you breakfast! This can be expanded on with data on nutrition comparisons between factory farmed and backyard raised chickens.
Yearning to reduce your reliance on the Grid? More here.
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