April 20, 2009

Back to basics - that's a good thing

Michelle Obama digging her veggie garden

Michelle Obama has started a gardening craze in the US with her White House vegetable garden. Whether it is a healthy back-to-basics movement, a result of the economic downturn, or simply wanting fresher, healthier, more natural food, more and more people are getting into vegetable gardening and.....Ta-dah! raising chickens.

On an organic chicken discussion group that I read, reports are coming in that feed stores (agropecuarias in Spanish) in California can not keep baby chicks in stock. One store sold out an order of 200 chicks in 40 minutes and another in 20 minutes. People are camping out in the parking lots before the feed stores open in order to be first in line. Similar reports came from Idaho and Hawaii.

Hatcheries have chicks on back orders which they can't hope to fill. A San Francisco feed store owner says that he has never seen anything like it. Californian feed stores are ordering chicks from hatcheries as far away as Texas because they just aren't to be found in California. A Pennsylvanian member reported that chick orders are up all over the country and that all the hatcheries are sold out or close to it. Chicks are said to be sold on Craiglist in California for US $5 each and laying hens for US $20-$40! A recent news story said that "Chickens In Your Backyard" is a best selling book in Ireland.

I have my own hatchery going on here in La Ceiba, Honduras. Not by my choice as we would rather have the eggs, being greedy human beings. The bantam hens, however, have different ideas. Their goal is to increase the species and take over the world with bantam hens. Too bad that I'm bigger and stronger.

There was some concern expressed on the group whether all these new chicken 'farmers' would make the effort to learn how to care for their new chicks. Hopefully they will. That is kind of the American way: Buy some books, study it, research it on the internet, and do it! I'll admit that I knew nothing about chickens (except how they tasted! ;-/) before we started raising them. El Jefe's mom had had chickens when they were young so he was a little ahead of me.

I feel like if I can do it, anyone can. Our nieces and nephews are enthralled with their pet chickens and seem to be taking very good care of them. If it is something that you think you might be interested in, check out a good beginner book.
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