Posts Tagged ‘farm’

Goats and Chickens in Chicago: A Radio Spot on WBEZ

WBEZ eporter Lewis Wallace presented a piece on goats and chickens in Chicago as a lead-in to the upcoming Urban Livestock Expo. Check out her story and video here.

Momma and baby on the rain barrel

Momma and baby on the rain barrel


Chicken Retirement

I got a call yesterday from a reporter who wanted my opinion on “chicken retirement” – sending older hens who’ve stopped being productive to a local farm. Apparently there are farms in Portland that take in aged birds, allowing owners to get new egg producers without killing the nonproductive ones. (See this blog post for a first-hand account.)

How sustainable is this model of “chicken rescue?” What are the costs to the farmer who puts time and resources in keeping a flock of nonproductive hens? Does the fertilizer gained offset the feed consumed and lack of eggs?

Before you get chickens, consider the lifespan of the bird (6-8 years). Then consider that the most productive years are the first 2-3 years of life. Are the birds pets? Are they stew birds?

We are promoting urban agricultural practices in keeping backyard birds, but are we sidestepping the reality that animals are domesticated and brought to live with humans because they are a food source? In short, are we exchanging one unsustainable practice (large-scale egg farming) for another (the potential of filling rural farms with former urban pets)?

Have comments? I’d love to hear them.


Sept. 17, 2011: Home to Roost at County Fair

Join Home to Roost at Garfield Park Conservatory’s County Fair event!

Saturday, September 17

Hours: 11 am – 4 pm
Where: Conservatory Grounds
Cost: $5 admission per person (includes all activities except pony rides; Members and children aged 3 and under are free!

“Celebrate the harvest and healthy communities at one of the Conservatory’s most popular events. This is a family-oriented day with programs and activities for all ages. Discover agricultural traditions, see the best in urban gardening, and enjoy horticultural exhibits and demonstrations. Children’s activities, petting zoo and garden displays highlight the connections between plants, food and American heritage….”

Click to read more…

The Urban Chicken Consultant Recommends Enslaved by Ducks

So what’s life like living with animals? Not just dogs and cats, but turkeys, ducks, rabbits, and exotic birds?

Check out Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte for the answer!

This book, written by a freelancer whose wife loves animals, contains witty, clever, and poignant stories/anecdotes about animal husbandry. A cute little bunny leads them to owning a veritable menagerie of fowl and other life forms, including ducks, budgies, doves, African greys, rabbits, and other assorted oddities.

It reminds me of my experiences as a kid! Lots of anthropomorphizing – and great fun!

June 12, 2011: Openfields Farm Tour

U of I Extension Announces June 12 OPENFIELDS Farm Tour

University of Illinois Extension is working with producers in Northern Illinois to present the third annual Openfields Farm Tour on Sunday, June 12, from Noon to 5 p.m. Openfields Farm Tour is a rare, one-day opportunity in which participating farms collectively open their land and operations to the public, and visitors get a chance to tour and learn about each farm operation. This is a multiple site self-guided tour, and there is no charge to participate.

The Openfields Farm Tour presents an opportunity to visit area market gardens, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), and on-farm operations, and learn more about the local foods system in northern Illinois. Participants will meet the producers and learn about their farms, products and passion for what they do. Openfields provides an opportunity to ask questions and learn about market scale production, farming and CSA’s. Connections between the grower and consumer are often limited to conversations at farmer’s markets or farm. Openfields Farm Tour will provide an opportunity for all to make connections and learn from each other.

The University of Illinois Extension is working with area producers to support the local food system in Northern Illinois. The Local Foods Directory-Northern Illinois was recently updated and currently available on the U of I-Winnebago County website. 100 producers are listed in this directory along with 13 area farmers markets. A second directory, compiled by the Northwest Illinois Audubon Society and U of I Extension-Stephenson County, lists 38 local farms in Northwestern Illinois. Extension also provides support and training opportunities to farmers, farmer’s market managers and area restaurants interested in sourcing local food.

To download an Openfields Farm Tour map, or for more information on programs and events related to local foods, please visit, or call 815-986-4357.