Lora Hall needed guidance when her chicken got sick. The Echo Park gardener had been keeping several in her backyard for more than a year, but she'd never handled a serious illness. What was the most humane way to put a sick chicken down? Her friends couldn't tell her. Neither could her chicken-owning neighbors, Homegrown Evolution bloggers Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne.
“When your chickens get sick, it isn't like dealing with a cat or dog,” says Hall. Sure, pet chickens have become increasingly popular among city folks over the past few years, what with the locavore movement, but there's not much in the way of a local community where people can gather and get fowl advice. That's why Hall started a Meetup.com group, Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts, which will convene every month in a different chicken's yard. For this Saturday's introductory potluck, both current and aspiring owners are invited to bring questions and dishes (which can contain eggs as long as they're not from a supermarket).
New to the whole backyard poultry thing? You'd be surprised at what great pets chickens can make. “They're very funny and make for great entertainment,” says Hall. “Once you have chickens, they are always the center of attention at parties.” Even better? Your omelettes will shine. “Homegrown eggs are more nutritious and have deeper-colored yolks,” says Hall. “Well-tended, happy chickens do make tastier eggs.”
They also, for better or worse, make a bit of noise, so proximity to your neighbors is something to consider. (In L.A., chickens must be 20 feet away from your residence, and 35 feet from any other residence.) As with any pet, they require diligence: There's poo to clean; stray cats to scare away. “Keeping chickens is a lot of work and responsibility,” says Hall, “but the reward of fresh eggs is worth it. I can't imagine eating store eggs anymore.”
First potluck meeting of the Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts, Sat., Sept. 19, 2 p.m., free. Silverlake/Echo Park-area location disclosed when you register.
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