Monday, September 2, 2013

Monthly backyard chicken meetup in Union Square - tomorrow night!

Hey folks! Just a quick reminder that the next monthly chicken meetup is tomorrow night at Relish: Center for Urban Agriculture in Union Square from 7-9:30pm. This month's presentation topic will be: "Dirt, Sand, Straw, Grass - What to put in your run?"

See you there!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Beat the heat, and where to buy feed in Boston?

Hey folks, and happy summertime!  

Firstly:  Have you tried putting a few ice cubes in your girls' water to keep them cool in this heat?  It's a nifty little trick (and they love trying to peck at the bobbing cubes!). 

You can also hose down their run in the morning to create a slightly cooler microclimate and help cool their little down-coated bodies.  Just be sure that you let them run to the other side so they don't get hosed down too - chickens tend to be strongly averse to getting wet, and you definitely don't want to add to the stress. 

That said, a nice sponge bath under the front of their bellies or under their wings will help them cool down a bit more as well.  And, of course, make sure they have a place where they can get into some nice shade and always have plenty of water. 

And now, the main topic of today's post: where to buy chicken feed and supplies in the greater Boston area?

There are a couple of long-established feed stores a little ways out of town, and three smaller and really fantastic little Urban Ag centers a bit closer in:

Feed stores:
1) Agway in Waltham, MA (closest to us here in Cambridge/Somerville) - They only carry Agway brand feeds, but there are a couple of options to choose from (basic layer vs. "healthy hen" vs. organic, etc) and they have a variety of feeders/waterers/etc.  The guys who work there are great and a get a big kick out of us city dwellers coming to buy chicken feed.  :)

2) Erikson Grain Mill in Acton, MA - Great old place that operates in the old mill building.  They have some variety of feeds, and a good variety of supplies, including food grade diatomaceous earth.

3) Essex County Co-op in Topsfield, MA (north) - This place has the highest variety of feeds/brands and you can often walk into the warehouse to read labels, etc.  They also have a wide variety of supplies, supplements, meds, etc.  This one might be my favorite of the big feed stores in the area, and it's a nice drive to get up there.

Urban Ag Centers:
1) Relish: Center for Urban Agriculture, here in Somerville, MA.  They just opened, so they don't have much for supplies yet, but definitely keep this place on your radar if you're in the Cambridge/Somerville area.  They are already a fantastic resource, and as they grow and get their inventory and system better established they will serve our local community even more.  They will soon be organizing a monthly group feed order, probably in conjunction with our new monthly (1st Tuesday) urban chicken meet-up events that will be starting August 6th.  So stay tuned for more info on that excitement!

2) Pemberton Farms in Cambridge, MA.  This is one of my favorite stores in all of Boston - gourmet groceries with a very strong emphasis on locally-produced goods, plus a fantastic garden center, and they carry some chicken feed and supplies as well (the owners have a small flock of silkies!). 

3) Agricultural Hall in Jamaica Plain, MA (SW Boston).  They have been open about a year or so, and have limited hours, so check that they are open before you go.  They carry some feed and a few supplies, and occasionally host urban ag festivals like last September's Urban Ag Fair!

Thanks y'all, and stay cool!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

News and upcoming events June-July 2013

Hidey-ho, neighbors!

Long time, no blog!  There has been a whole heckuva lot going on in the world of The Chickeness these past few months, and now that one major job has come to a close, I'm looking forward to spending more of my time with the birds once again.

So... news and upcoming events!
  • Did you know that Somerville has a new Center for Urban Agriculture, called Relish?  Well we do, and I am SO excited about it!!  On June 13th (THIS THURSDAY!) I will be presenting my Yardbirds' "Backyard Chickens 101" class at Relish, which is in Union Square (behind The Independent).  The class is $15 - for more info and to pre-register go here.
  • Also at Relish on July 20th, Yardbirds will be doing our first all-day DIY coop workshop from 10am-4pm.  Come for the day, learn all the things, and go home with a coop of your own!  Stay tuned for details.
  • Did you know that I've been working to help the City of Boston come up with some new zoning that will allow and encourage urban agriculture in the city?  I have been, and they have recently released it for public comment and feedback.  Please help the City of Boston see that residents support urban ag (especially chickens!) and encourage each neighborhood to adopt the new urban ag-focused rezoning for their area by attending upcoming neighborhood meetings!  We really need public support for chickens to become legal to keep in each of these neighborhoods, so any and all voices are helpful.  Here is the BRA website with more detailed info, a site where you can download your own copy of Draft Article 89, and the full schedule of neighborhood meetings:
    • June 12th - Roxbury - 6:30-8:30pm (This Wednesday!) at Roxbury Community College, 2nd floor cafeteria, 1234 Columbus Ave
    • June 18th - Jamaica Plain - 6-8pm at the English High School auditorium, 144 McBride St
    • June 19th, 12-1pm, Twitter chat #UrbanAgBOS
    • June 26th - Allson/Brighton - 6-7:45pm at the Honan Branch Library, 300 N. Harvard St, Allston
    • July 1st - Dorchester - 6:30-8:30pm at Dorchester House, 1353 Dorchester Ave
    • July 15th - Dorchester #2 - 6:30-8:30pm at The Great Hall, 6 Norfolk St
    • July 8th - East Boston - 6-7:45pm at the Maverick Landing Community Room, 31 Liverpool St
    • July 10th - Roslindale/West Roxbury - 6:30-8:30pm at the Roche Community Center, 1716 Centre St, W Roxbury
    • July 17th - Hyde Park/Mattapan - 6:30-8:30pm at the Municipal Bldg auditorium, 1179 River St, Hyde Park
    • July 24th - Back Bay/South End/Bay Village/Audubon Circle/Fenway/Kenmore/Longwood - 6-8pm at the Copley Branch BPL in Raab Hall, 700 Boylston St, Boston Back Bay
    • July 31st - South Boston - 6:30-8:30pm at Condon Elementary School cafeteria, 200 D St.
  • On that note, the City of Cambridge is following suit, and has recently started discussions about how to handle urban ag rezoning within their city too!  Stay tuned here or on the Yardbirds website for how you can help make this happen.
  • And finally, check out this great article in the June issue of Edible Boston: Coops de Ville, featuring yours truly, as well as some of my friends and clients!
That's all for the moment... enjoy the rain and stay tuned for more news and info!

The Chickeness

Monday, March 25, 2013

Victory Chickens - why it's your patriotic duty to have your own flock.

A friend recently posted this to my FB wall (click on the picture to see a larger, zoom-able version).  I saw it when first put it together in 2010, and I love love LOVE this ad.  And here's why. 

(Got a little history lesson for ya', Ags... whoop!)

Disclaimer: I'm not at all a historian, so if you are and any of this seems totally off in that regard, please respond in the comments and let me and my readers know - thanks!

As I understand it this ad, or many ads very similar to it, originally came out in the war-era of the early 20th century, when the surge of American patriotism that was being hyped by the media was, at least in part, a direct result of major resource limitations at the federal level - all of our country's money, metal, and men were being sent to the war.  (The Rosie-the-Riveter ad is another classic example, though that's from WWII.  The original date in this ad read 1918, which was WWI.) 

So the folks left here at home were being asked to do their part to support the country's efforts for this seemingly-noble war by conserving resources wherever possible - buy less, consume less, and wherever possible, grow your own

We're in a totally different decade, but it's the same concept.  Except this time it's about conservation of resources at the global level, and our government isn't directing the movement... WE ARE.

Aaaaaand, not to be comPLETEly serious... in other recent news, don't lick your chickens.

YBC events coming up:
  • March 30th (Saturday) YBC table at the Somerville Winter Farmers' Market from about 10:30am-2pm.  Open to the public.  Location is the Armory at 191 Highland Ave.  More event info on the Somerville Urban Ag blog.
  • April 6th (Saturday) YBC table at the Get Growing! festival at the Cambridge Community Center off Western Ave in Cambridge.  Open to the public, time TBD, but I expect it to be somewhere in the range of 10am-3pm.
  • April 6th (Saturday) YBC presentation for Somerville's Urban Ag Ambassadors program.  About 3:30pm.  Might not be open to the public... stay tuned for details!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring hath sprung!



Oh hey stranger... long time no see, eh?

It's true.  It's officially spring, though it's snowing (again) here in Boston.  I've had a somehow simultaneously quiet-yet-full winter, scheming and planning and/or generally resting up for the onset of springtime shenanigans.  And now I have the hatching bug.  Good thing I have a couple of silkies that go broody at the mere sight of a group of eggs....

"Oh look!  Eggs!"

*sits on them*

In other news, there are two things I'd like to share with y'all today:

1) There are new events posted on my event calendar!  (Scroll down to "Upcoming events and appearances" on the main page.)

2) As you all are putting together your coop-building plans for this year, check out this great article on predator-proofing your coop.  In the city we tend to not be able to have roosters (their main jobs are to protect the flock and make babies), but we definitely have a lot of predators.  My flock has learned to look out for hawks, and I've had neighbors lose birds to racoons.  I also have neighborhood cats that wander in and out of my yard pretty regularly (the girls chase them out when they're awake, but I make sure they're all locked up at night).

Happy springtime, and see you again soon!  :D