Here are a few things you should know about keeping backyard chickens: Poultry are “poop machines” -- but cleaning up after them is “less maintenance than a cat’s litter box.” You can let them range free around the yard -- just watch out for predatory eagles (and your garden: “Chickens will annihilate it.”). Chickens are “not pets,” except when “they’re very much our pets.” Clearly, fowl guardianship is a highly personal endeavor.
I gleaned these scraps of wisdom last Saturday, when I attended a citywide open house of sorts for backyard chicken enthusiasts. On Seattle Tilth’s annual Chicken Coop & Urban Farm Tour, the keepers of the local flocks open up their coops and let the curious poke around. Of course, I was among them. I’ve been taken with the fantasy of backyard chickens for awhile now -- waking in the morning to soft bawk-bawk-bawking, whipping up fluffy omelets with just-laid eggs -- so I had to see how closely real chicken husbandry matched my daydreams. Is it difficult? Is it stinky? Do I really have what it takes to be a hen mother? It was time to find out.