Backyard Chickens: A Primer
It may be part of the recent movement towards local food, or it may be that folks have always raised backyard chickens and news sources are only just catching up.
In any case, your local library has lots of resources if you are considering raising poultry.
Start with Inspiration
Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer is a lovely, quiet memoir about leaving a marriage and making a new life with an adolescent daughter and a small flock of laying hens. Goldhammer describes her small-brained friends perfectly. If you are not sure you are ready to add chicks to your home, spend a bit of time with Goldhammer and you will find yourself drawing up plans for a coop.
Next, a Film
Get the rest of your family on board with a screening of Mad City Chickens. This is a funny, informative, and thoroughly entertaining look at life with chickens.
The Nuts and Bolts
Once you are ready to measure your backyard and design a coop, several books will provide all the information you need, and more. The classic Storey's Guide to Raising Poultry by Leonard Mercia includes a great deal of basic information, and enough detail that you could successfully open a ranch with 100 turkeys.
Raising Chickens For Dummies by Kimberley Willis and The Joy of Keeping Chickens: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Poultry for Fun or Profit by Jennifer Megyesi are directed more to the suburban lifestyle. If you live on the Peninsula, you are likely to live within a community that allows only a small number of hens and these books are tailored for you.
Whether it is inspiration or information you need, check out these materials and you will be tasting home-grown eggs before the year is out.
MK is a children's librarian, reviewer for The Horn Book, Inc., and has served on several national children's book award committees including the ALA Notable Books Committee, the Caldecott Award Committee, and the Carnegie Medal committee.