Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"If it's not one thing, 
it's another your mother"
Now the word is out ....
in the newspaper

An egg-citing time for urban poultry

4/14/2009 11:25:02 AM
By Susan Waughtal
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN 
The hottest trend in backyard design might not involve gazebos or outdoor kitchens. It just might be chicken coops.
If you go
What: Backyard Urban Chicken Ranching class
When: 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Quarry Hill Nature Center, 701 Silver Creek Road, Rochester
Cost: $8 adults, $6 Friends members
With the increased desire for local, sustainably-grown, ultra-fresh food, a growing number of city dwellers are getting a taste of farm life by raising their own chickens in their backyards. Fueled by this trend, many cities are instituting permitting processes to allow for urban poultry.
Rochester, perhaps because of its agrarian roots, has had an ordinance allowing backyard chickens for many years, although in the past, not many residents have taken advantage of it. The ordinance allows three hens, no roosters; the owner must have a coop and a permit. A two-year permit costs $20. So far this year, the city clerk's office has already granted six permits.
Northwest Rochester resident Cheri Dietzman has always had a yen to raise chickens. With the encouragement of a chicken-farming co-worker, three years ago she got a few hens: a Silver Lace Wyandotte, a Speckled Sussex and a Buff Orpington. "All of the chickens are friendly and come running to meet me," she says. "But the Buff Orpington is probably the sweetest, and she lays huge brown eggs.
"My husband, Kirk, only agreed to chickens because he thought it would be easier than letting me get a horse," Dietzman adds, laughing.
Nevertheless, Kirk got on board and built a small coop, a raised 4-foot x 4-foot plywood box with a chicken entrance and a door that gives Cheri access to the nesting boxes inside. In warm weather, the hens spend most of their days in a 4-foot x 10-foot fenced chicken yard. The enclosure has a corrugated plastic roof to provide a bit of shade and protection from rain.
Chickens require minimum care. Dietzman feeds them table scraps in addition to chicken feed. And they hunt for bugs.
Many people who raise chickens are also gardeners, and appreciate chickens for their insect-eating prowess and for providing valuable chicken manure fertilizer.
"I love taking a basket of eggs over to a neighbor and when neighborhood families come to visit my chickens. People are very curious and have lots of questions," she says.
Cheri's chickens usually lay an egg per chicken per day. A chicken's egg production is regulated by daylight hours, so it slows during the short winter days, but Cheri uses artificial light so she gets eggs year-round.
Have the chickens paid for themselves in eggs yet? Probably not, she says, but the eggs are delicious, the chickens are entertaining, and it is a delightful recreational hobby.
For anyone interested in raising their own chickens in the city, Quarry Hill Nature Center will be holding a class on Backyard Urban Chicken Ranching on Saturday. The cost is $8 for adults, or $6 for QHNC members. To register, call 281-6114.
Susan Waughtal is an Oronoco freelance writer.


  1. Cool. You're famous! Are you teaching the class too?
    And are you a good law-abiding citizen, i.e. do you have a permit or are you now busted? hehe

  2. Hey "chicken lady", I Love it that you were featured in that PB. Whoooo hooooo!

  3. very cool...and still a little jealous with this whole chicken thing...maybe I'll have to go to that class...


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