Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chickens in Akron?

I have started emailing and calling our city council members for a change in the general provisions of Akron to allow chicken coops with up to 6 hens in Akron. Please...anyone who would like chickens...please let your voice be heard!

Emails have been sent out....I'll let you know what I hear back!

There are several benefits of urban chickens for the resident of Akron.

1. Local source of protein. If you live in an urban environment you can grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables in your backyard. When it comes to supplying your own source of protein however, it's impossible to get your dog to lay breakfast each morning or fit a cow in your backyard. That's why chickens are so wonderful! They are small, easy to care for, and won't take up your entire yard. Chickens provide protein rich eggs.

2. Better Quality: Fresh foods simply taste better! Also, when you raise your own eggs, you know what the animal ate, its living conditions, and how it was treated. No need to worry about food safety, antibiotics, or hormones.

3. Source of fertilizer: Chicken poop is high in nitrogen and great for your compost pile. Supply your backyard garden with compost made from chicken poop and watch your plants flourish!

4. Natural pest control: Chickens are great at controlling these pests naturally- no need to put nasty chemicals in your yard.

5. It’s fun and educational: Tending chickens is pleasurable and even easier than caring for a dog. There is no walking the chickens or even giving them a bath. But chickens do require daily food and fresh water. The coop must be cleaned and the chickens inspected regularly to ensure they are healthy. Children can participate in all of these chicken-related chores. Just like cats and dogs, chickens have personalities and can be great companions. If you can't keep indoor pets, chickens are a wonderful alternative with the added benefit of providing food. Also, your neighbors and friends will come flocking over to your house to take part in all the excitement. Of course, the eggs must also be collected daily. The average laying hen will product about 300 eggs a year, but production depends much on the breed and the environment. The happier the hens, the more they will produce. A child's favorite chicken-related chore is bound to be collecting eggs.

I’m sure there are several concerns about urban chickens for the resident of Akron.

1. After a chicken dies of old age from living a healthy life in a secure coop/run, something will need to be done with the body. This is a topic that would need to be discussed further prior to approving chickens.

  1. Treat chickens exactly like other pets. Bring the deceased animal to a vet or bury it in the backyard.
  2. Locate a local, large scale compost pile so the animal will decompose quickly. It is not recommended to put a whole chicken in a backyard compost pile. Larger piles generate higher internal temperatures.
  3. Dispose of the animal in a dumpster or garbage can. I don’t agree with this option, but included it for completeness. Grocery stores currently dispose of expired meat products, including whole featherless chickens, in their dumpsters.
  4. Burning the animal in a backyard fire pit. Existing town ordinances would prohibit this.

2. Animals Roaming the Streets: Chickens, just like dogs must be securely contained with in the owner’s property. Chickens should be kept in a fenced in run or coop when unsupervised. If the chickens are allowed to roam freely in a fully fenced in yard, the owners should be there to supervise them. At no point in time should chickens be allowed to “roam the streets”.

3. Avian Flu and Disease: Caring pet owners are more likely to treat all the animals in their family better than the mass agricultural industries. More space per hen and better food mean that home raised chickens will be healthier. Backyard Hens are as likely to contract avian flu and other diseases as pet parrots. Since the hens are pets and in a small flock, the owners will be more astute to changes in the animals health. If any sickness is detected, like a responsible owner, they will do what is necessary to get their pet healed.

From the CDC website’s FAQ.

We have a small flock of chickens. Is it safe to keep them?
Yes. In the United States there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors potential infection of poultry and poultry products by avian influenza viruses and other infectious disease agents.

A few government run sites devoted to Avian Influenza.

4. It’s not the City of Akron. This is a tricky concern to counter because it is a subjective opinion and not really an argument. The City of Akron states that the city is “a world class city” that cares about the environment. If so, why is the council unwilling to discover the facts? Are they afraid that a staff committee will recommend that Chickens are good for the environment and will have no negative effect upon the quality of life for residents? Most of land within the city limits was historically farm land, so maybe “chickens are Akron.”

5. More sustainable living raising your own chickens will bring you and your family one step closer to a sustainable and self-sufficient life. The eggs that you eat will not need to be trucked from a farm to a local grocery store and then picked up by you from the store.

6. Noise. Hens are much quieter than dogs. Roosters are loud, which is why we are requesting that roosters remain forbidden.

7. Predators: It is possible to design a coop that will keep chickens safe from raccoons, dogs, foxes or whatever other predators exist in your area. Most places in Akron should not have to worry about anything larger than a raccoon or a dog. There are many coop designs that give detailed instructions on how to secure a coop from the common predators. Too ensure the safety of the hens and to reduce the likelihood of attracting predators, a permit for the coop should be required from the town building or animal control departments.

8. Slaughter: As stated at the council meeting, we believe that chickens should not be slaughtered in a person’s backyard. Butchers and chicken processing plants would be the expected destination for those looking to have their pets processed. A chicken costs approximately $3.50 to be processed, as stated by a local farmer at the state farmer’s market.

9. Smell: Just like with any pet, it is up to the owner to be responsible and properly take care of their pet. A small number of hens living in a properly sized coop that is cleaned on a regular basis, then it will smell no worse than a litter box or a dog. A single large dog makes a bigger mess than 6 chickens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Potato Box??

I like reading information about using our yard as efficiently as possible and vertical growing. Our lot is only 112x43, we have a nice sized house, 2+ car garage, multiple car driveway and a big swing set for the kids...growing space is at a premium. (AND I would like to add a chicken coop!) We have begun looking into ways to produce as much as possible in the space we have. After reading several articles and blogs, they claim this box will produce anywhere from 80-125 pounds of potatoes!! I think we just might give this a try. If it works well, we might have two of them of next year. With all the little and some big mouths we have, we can never have enough taters!

Getting Started

Wow...I'm taking on a blog! I'm wife to Bob and stay at home mom of 6 children! We live in the City of Akron, Ohio. This is kind of like my electronic diary of our life together. The adventures of the Knoebel clan!

Our family is moving towards being more self sufficient. We have planted a small vegetable garden the last few years, but this year we are putting in raised beds in an attempt to become more organized. We are planning to plant climbing beans, zucchini, squash, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, bell pepper and banana peppers. We already have blue berries, strawberries, and raspberry growing...yum! If only the rain would let us long enough to get everything in the ground and read to grow! Next step...learn how to can or freeze our extras!!!

I looked into the laws for having chickens in the city of's a no go with our lot! All chickens and coops must be at least 100 feet from dwellings. I called Zoning and Health Department. They told me I have to call the City Council to change the the letter writing has begun. I'm hoping they will adopt the same laws as our neighbor to the north, Cleveland. I'll start with phone calls and letters....may have to drop in on a meeting or two!

We are looking for ways to make our lives more natural. It seems like there is all kinds of man made chemicals to fix stuff, but what about using the nature around us? maybe as I find tips, I'll add them to our blog...or any suggestions from others out there in blogging land!

We school some of our children at home through Ohio Virtual Academy. Two of the kids attend a public brick and mortar school. I think every parent has to find the right fit for their child to learn their best. We are wrapping up all our classes and moving towards the outdoors everyday!

Off to figure out supper!