As I continued research for my sermon yesterday morning, I found a great article that had just been published in the Seattle Times about a woman in Kent, Washington, who has three hens in her backyard to provide her family with eggs and her garden with manure. Life was good until a persnickety neighbor called the city and said Tami Jackson was in violation of the city codes that ban residents from raising chickens on lots smaller than 20,000 square feet. Jackson and several of her neighbors had no idea it was illegal to have chickens in their yards. It sounds like Jackson has been successful in convincing most of the city council to amend the code to allow residents to have three chickens if their lot is 5,000 square feet and one additional chicken for each additional thousand square feet of land.
People frequently ask me if I grew up on a farm. No, I didn't. I did, however, grow up with chickens in my backyard. We lived in a small Texas town, and since my parents had always lived on a farm until I was three years old, it was not a big deal to them to have chickens in our backyard. We usually had 10-20 hens, and we sold eggs to our friends and neighbors. I grew up thinking that all chickens ran around in grass and breathed fresh air. I was in my mid-20s when I learned about factory farming. At that point, I wished I could have my own chickens again, but since my husband was in the Navy, and we frequently moved -- and we lived in cities -- I didn't think it was possible. Our egg consumption was cut to almost zero. We only used eggs for baking and an occasional quiche. Unlike most children, mine did not grow up eating eggs. A year before we finally moved to the country, I found a little farm where I could buy fresh eggs, and I was thrilled.
Now that I have chickens, I'll never be without them again. Even when I'm old and gray, and even if I'm in a wheelchair, I'll still have at least three or four hens. They're not any more difficult to raise than a cat -- they're easier than a dog -- and the reward of their delicious eggs is well worth the effort.