You talkin' to me?! You talkin' to ME?!?!
T324 owner David Daniels took this photo of his backyard chickens this weekend. We don't wanna mess with these guys!
Like a lot of folks in the East Bay, David keeps chickens- as pets, for eggs, for fun.
The urban homesteading movement is very strong in the Bay Area, particularly in the East Bay, where there's actually a school for urban farming education. The Institute of Urban Homesteading offers classes in things like beekeeping, soil health, home butchering and lacto-fermenting. (Next month the Institute is giving a tour of East Bay urban farms, which should be fascinating!) The East Bay Humane Society has tips on humane chicken-keeping as well, and many Bay Area shelters offer chickens for adoption.
Visiting sites like BackyardChickens.com, it's clear keeping chickens takes effort and care.
Building a coop is an adventure, as is predator-proofing it. In Berkeley and Oakland, the giant raccoons are a real threat- I know two households who had their flocks wiped out by Ranger Rick and his bandit friends.
Luckily, chicken ranchers can now get everything they need to keep a flock in one local spot- the just-opened urban farm store Pollinate, in Fruitvale.
Pollinate sells heritage breed chicks, as well as organic and conventional feeds, coop accessories like brooder lamps and supplements. Heritage chickens are a big trend and offer great diversity in appearance as well as colorful eggs and traits like cold-resistance and good nature.
If you're considering keeping backyard chickens, it's important to check the law for your particular city.
Albany, El Cerrito, Oakland and Berkeley all have different regulations about urban farming. See this helpful East Bay Express article for recent info on laws around husbandry and animal slaughter.
TheCityChicken has a whole page devoted to nation-wide chicken laws, as well!
If you have chickens who are good layers, you'll need to use up lots of eggs.
A classic, '60s-style chocolate mousse uses ten eggs and neither cream or butter- all the richness comes from egg yolks and the lightness from whites. Here's an excellent recipe!
Backyardchickens.com has cooking and freezing advice as well as egg-heavy recipe tips for foods like pound cake, which uses six to nine eggs. (Always remember that while free-ranging backyard chickens are at less risk for salmonella than factory chickens which live in crowded conditions, pregnant women and people who have immuno-compromising conditions like HIV should not eat raw eggs.)
If you want a crowd-pleasing brunch you can make the night before, make a strata. This classic Italian dish uses the same ratio of eggs to liquid as a quiche, but is generally made with milk instead of cream, and is assembled in advance and refrigerated, then just put in the oven. Epicurious has lots of recipes.