The Heights is full of unassumingly cool people. Seriously.
Right now, raising chickens in urban areas is super-hip. The national craze is popping up everywhere, as featured in The New York Times and NPR. Tons of people are working to create more favorable city ordinances for raising chickens in urban areas.
Meanwhile, back in lil' ol' Houston Heights, we've had neighbors raising chickens in their backyards for, um, years!
Take Debbie, for instance. She's the mother of two children and an active community member. She also happens to manage a chicken coop in her backyard and has been doing so for the past four or five years.
When asked why she decided to take on a feathered flock of her own, she said, "I had lived in The Heights for a while and had seen chickens wandering around. A friend and I decided, 'Hey, we can do that!'"
Her husband constructed a chicken coop near their storage shed. They originally talked about slaughtering the chickens for meat but then decided just to keep them for eggs.
Currently, Debbie and her family own three Americanas that each lay an egg a day during the laying season. They stop twice a year for approximately two months at a time. Debbie and her family use the eggs to make frittata or deviled eggs, and they give eggs to their friends for gifts. Debbie says, "A lot of people take wine; we take eggs."
For Debbie and her family, their chickens are "somewhere between pets and livestock." They are "nice to have around," but they "don't mourn their passing."
Debbie's chickens often attract possums, and, if there's too much extra food lying around, they also attract rats.
Debbie makes taking care of chickens look easy and rustically fun. While I interviewed her, she pulled a hay-covered tray out of the bottom of the coop and started cleaning it off with sweeping and scraping. She says the hay can be added to the compost. She also mentioned that chickens can act like living garbage disposals, as she pointed to the french fry remnants of last night's dinner that she had thrown on the ground for the chickens to peck at.
Debbie knows she's violating the city ordinances that govern urban chicken raising in Houston, but she shrugs off the problem. She keeps only hens (no alarm-clock roosters!), and she says they only make noise when they are endangered. And, if they clean the coop once a week, "there's no smell."
So, Heights residents, what are your experiences with chickens in the neighborhood? Have you noticed a trend? Have you seen any problems? What do you think about the city ordinances that make it difficult to legally raise chickens in The Heights, due to our small plots of land?