BACKYARD BARNYARD

Anaïs and Jordanne Dervaes give a video tour of the Pasadena homestead where they keep chickens, ducks, and goats (VIEW ONLINE VIDEO FEATURE running time 4:00 minutes)

LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE ONLINE EXTRA

By Wendy Witherspoon LAmag.com, October 19, 2009

If you’ve ever looked at your pet dog (especially after “cleaning up” the lawn) and wondered when he was going to start pulling his own weight, perhaps it’s time to introduce a new member to the household: a barnyard animal. Chickens and quail, for instance, provide delicious fresh eggs, while rabbits produce nutrient-rich droppings that can be dumped right into your garden’s soil for fertilizer.

The Dervaes family’s homestead in Pasadena is the gold standard for how to keep farm animals in an urban space, so we returned with our video camera to take one more peek. Just behind the bountiful vegetable beds there’s a pen that holds 15 animals (with various coops and interior spaces for sleeping), but there’s no smell and hardly a peep.

The flock certainly seems to contribute more than most urban pets, but these particular birds may be a bit smarter than your average barnyard banties. Consider some of the names. For the ducks: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy (from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women). For the chickens: Estella, Sissy, Lucie, Bella, Dora, Lizzie, and Sairey (literary kudos to you if you guessed Charles Dickens).

If you’re already measuring your backyard for a chicken coop, make sure to consult local codes online before demanding that Fido share his space with a fluffy new friend—most cities allow chickens and ducks, for example, but they vary on the number. And if you find you’re up to code, you might get a pet that adds a little more to the household than just some sloppy kisses (but those are good, too).

VIEW ONLINE VIDEO FEATURE: running time 4:00 minutes

Comments(3)

  1. ~~Melissa says:

    The nibbling on the apron was funny. I love goats.

  2. CE says:

    I would just add that birds are not always quiet. Chickens can make a lot of noise. When laying they announce it pretty loudly for each egg and if they see a cat or something that they don’t like the squak at it till it is gone. Some breeds are quieter than others. If you are looking for silent chickens spend a day at a chicken coop and you’ll be surprised. So if you live in the city remember that those chickens will be close to your house and to others homes too.
    I enjoy my chickens but I am an early riser and not all my neighbors are so I had to devise a blackout system for early am and a light on a timer for low light days and early evenings. Chickens need 15 hours of light to lay eggs. In winter they need supplemental light and in summer that light is up at just a bit after 4am and so are the hungry chickens calling for their meal. Do your homework and visit some coops and talk to the owners on their habits and the chickens habits and noises. Roosters are usually not allowed in cities but some hens will take over for the missing rooster and do a very fair imitation of crowing the sun up.

  3. Taya says:

    Thanks for sharing! It was a nice view of the animal enclosure, giving a good perspective of it’s size. I think Blackberry wants her own apron.

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