Originally, I was going to use this photo in a post about our dad, bless his cool buckled shoes. (This week would have been his 83th birthday.) Like many of today’s urban chicken farmers, our mum and dad were artsy city kids who got back to the land… in their case, not in the city but in an old Cotswolds farmhouse in the U.K.
Chickens ran almost wild there. Our parents used to collect eggs from among the nettles along the drive. When they decided to coop our own, I remember being allowed to name “mine” (let’s say I called my chick Fluffy), then getting an early life lesson when grown-up Fluffy coincidentally disappeared the same day we had a tasty chicken stew.
I love this portrait of our folks, and am sometimes tempted to submit it to the great website My Parents Were Awesome. Like today’s chicken-keeping city slickers, they were pioneers of a sort. Think about that when looking at the earnest faces of settlers in archival photos. Those guys were the reckless and the rugged, willing to break from the mold of their father’s fathers.
In Toronto, you have to be an outlaw to raise chickens in your back yard*. It’s against city bylaws. However, one brave (reckless and rugged) soul is trying to change that. Skip over to the blog Toronto Chickens [updated link 31 Aug 2012 – coincidentally, my Mum’s birthday!] to get all kinds of how-tos of the urban chicken variety. Sign the petition while you’re there. Looking at the media links on the site, it seems the chicken tide may be turning in the city. So you might find yourself growing your own organic eggs, if you’ve a mind to.
*A little digression: It bugs me that “back” and “yard” seem to have fused permanently as a noun in modern English. I gladly accept “backyard” as an unhyphenated adjective. But “backyard” as a noun seems as wrong to me as “everyday” does in the usage: seeing these words stuck together seems wrong everyday. Fume. “Backyard” may have become everyday usage, but it makes me wince every day it appears, especially when I’m in my back yard. There. Rant over.