For the three years prior to setting up camp together with my better half in Oakland in late 2006, I lived in a shared apartment with a good friend in San Francisco’s Richmond district. Within a week I’d grown accustomed to the sound of the neighbors’ chicken coop with its clucking denizens, finding it an oddly placed but quite satisfying addition to the urban residential soundscape coming from the pastiche of interconnected backyards.
I was wholly unprepared for the introduction of the rooster, who announced his presence at about 5 am on his first full day of the job. I was initially livid. Soon though, I grew accustomed to him as well, and, during a spell of unemployment, I grew to find his going off pretty much every hour, on the hour terribly endearing. His disappearance from the scene after about a year and a half came as quite a blow; I’d grown strangely attached to him.
Anyhow, I just stumbled across a Worldwatch Institute article describing the D.I.Y. farming subset that is represented by people who are raising chickens in areas where one might not expect it otherwise: in cities. For a range of reasons—the economy, dietary health and safety matters—it appears as though a minor trend is establishing a foothold in the U.S.
I was certainly aware of urban farming initiatives—San Francisco is among the leaders in thought and action in this regard—but the image I’d been carrying in my mind was more along the lines of vegetables and fruits. I’m pleased to learn that tending to a small chicken flock is becoming an increasing part of the mix.
Feel free to sing along in celebration if you know the words.
There ain’t nobody here but us chickens
There ain’t nobody here at all
So quiet yourself,
And stop your fuss
There ain’t nobody here but us
Kindly point that gun,
The other way
And hobble, hobble hobble of and
Hit the hay
“Hey boss man
What do ya say?”
It’s easy pickens,
Ain’t nobody here but us chickens
–from Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens, Louis Jordan