“A visitor used the word 'unhygienic' to describe the almost full-grown chickens and turkeys living in our house. She had a point. Our record player was coated with a golden dust I had never seen before. Bill complained about the noise they made – even he, deep sleeper extraordinaire, couldn't sleep through their crack-of-dawn racket anymore. When I read something about getting chest infections from living in close quarters with chickens, I finally moved them outside.”
The passage above comes from the hilarious and unique memoir of one woman living on a funky little farm in inner-city Oakland, CA (in her words, “a farm on a dead-end street in the ghetto”) – Novella Carpenter's aptly titled Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. She continues the saga of her recently-acquired poultry:
“I was reluctant for a reason. We already had chickens. Since they are territorial and had an established pecking order, it was going to be a brutal smack-down for the little ones. So I slowly introduced the turkey poults and the new chickens to the big chickens. First I kept the new ones in a large wire pen. The big chickens thought this was some kind of gladiator event and lined up breast to breast to peek through the wire at the newbies and get in a sucker peck whenever possible. After a few days of this, they all knew one another, and I unleashed my chickens and turkeys into the cruel world of urban chickendom.”
Chickens, as it turns out, are only the beginning of this writer- farmer's vision. Ms. Carpenter adds bees, turkeys, geese, ducks, and, shortly after that, rabbits, to her eclectic spread. Not long after that, she obtains two small pigs and begins to learn the ins and outs of growing them into big (300-pound) pigs – in the inner city, this involves dumpster-diving for porcine delicacies (such as discarded bakery products from one establishment, and fish innards from another).
For anyone who has ever considered going back to the land, Farm City is part cautionary tale and part call to action. It's full of fascinating farmer's tips, hilarious moments, and a great deal of heart. Be sure to read all about it!
Copyright © 2009, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.