Our citified farm animals, bringing smiles to so many people

As oldest living chicken here on the urban homestead (over 6 years and still clucking away), Miss Clementine has been featured in by quite a few media outlets that have been done about our urban homesteading project. She’s our little star and she knows it. And we do spoil her so.

People who meet and greet our animals for the first time, whether they be the ducks, chickens or goats, are extremely surprised at their friendliness, cleanliness and even remark how fresh they smell.

We urban homesteaders believe (especially when it comes to backyard farm animals) that making the urban homesteading way of life both clean and tidy is essential to being good neighbors. Why? Because this “self sufficient/sustainable” lifestyle is so different from “the Joneses” As you know, people don’t necessarily take kindly to different. Especially with the “bad” conotations that usually comes with farming, chickens, or hippified lifestyle. As urban homesteaders we aren’t stuck out in the boondocks somewheres and we have to take the time to be good neighbors. It’s our responsibility to show that this way of life, though different, can be beautiful.

Jordanne visits a local family for on-site chicken consultation. Here she is showing the kids how to properly handle and care for chickens. Urban Heidi and Fairlight visit local school.

When we get such positive reaction from people who meet our animals (or even see our urban homestead for that matter), Jordanne says that’s one of the things she enjoys. She especially wants to dispels the notion that such backyard barnyard animals can be dirty and even mean (can’t believe how many people are afraid of chickens!)

Hey, fellow urban homesteaders! How are you handling the odd looks and murmerings amongst your neighbors? How are you taking time to be good neighbors and dispelling any misunderstood “back to the land” myths. Have you been a good neighbor and shown by example? Care to share?

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  1. Moria K. says:

    We don’t have animals but we have taken efforts to change the mood around the garden and make it more inviting and neigbors whom we have barely spoken with have remarked how nice it looks and then asked questions about the garden. I totally agree with you that making it look nice takes away the stiffness that some people have.

    Yesterday I was called to do an interview with our local news station about my garden in regards to why I garden and rising food prices etc. They had interviewed one of our master gardeners and that person is a wealth of information. They used, from my intereview, about how I use the garden to teach our homeschooled childern about gardening and also I said that if you have the will you can start a container garden in your apartment patio. I simply wanted to be positive. It was neat. Maybe it will get someone else interested in gardening as well.

  2. Sue says:

    I have nine city chickens in my backyard. I am amazed by how interested the neighbor kids are in them. They LOVE them! They come to visit them daily, they bring their friends to visit. Their friends bring friends to visit. Everyone loves my girls and no one is complaining about them.

    I really think I am changing attitudes just by living the way I want to live, it’s just that I planned on being in the country and that didn’t work out, so I’m urban homesteading and it is turning out to be quite a good adventure.

  3. plantainpatch says:

    I have found folks are really on one end of the spectrum or the other with our animals. Either they dislike them with no interest in learning more or they just love them. We share egg with two of our older neighbors who appreciate the girls. We aren’t getting many eggs anymore due to age. We answer passerby’s questions and have allowed them to pet them.

    I think the most important thing we are doing to be a good neighbor in regards to the animals is keeping their living quarters clean and odor free. It would really hard to undo misconceptions about smelly animals. Having clean and well loved animals people can relate too. It is much like any other pet.

  4. Susan says:

    Hippified – what a great word!

    Yes, it’s good to be considerate so your neighbors have no legitimate reason to complain about your animals.

    How I envy those of you who can have chickens. It’s been my dream since I was 14 but as I live in a condo I doubt it will ever happen. =(

  5. Ken Kunst says:

    I live in the city of Napa, so while my street is an ugly mix of urban/industrial/speedway, etc…there is a country feel to the area, and of course, the vineyards in the county are 5 minutes away, so there are a lot of people interested in chickens and “country living”. I have a feed store 2 blocks away, and the original sunsweet prune drying/processing warehouse is around the corner, which has now been converted to an interesting mix of small businesses. No problem with our chickens, except for the fact I let them free-range in my large backyard, so their “feritlizer” ends up on everything! I collect it daily and add it to my composting activities.I find my kid’s friends and most everyone I encounter are just as fascinated as I am with the chickens and my urban homestead. Hey, my chickens are way less smelly than my neighbor’s dogs anyway!

  6. Nancy Kelly says:

    Wonderful topic!

    Everyone in the neighborhood compliments my front garden in spring, when the flowers are glorious. But then everything goes to seed and flops and I feel like it looks ugly till I clean up (I wait a while, to collect the seeds).

    And then it is kind of bare till the next wave of summer vegetables.

    How do you keep your front garden CONSISTENTLY pretty?

    PS Re: mean farm animals, I have a rooster and he IS mean! And James Herriot was killed by a sheep.

  7. Frank says:

    We have the legal three hens in our town and run our homemade incubator for others chicken eggs almost year round. I’m always amazed at how disarming a day old chick can be. My teenage son’s friends just can’t help themselves to drop that tough guy bravado when you hand them a baby chick. We laugh because our neighbors fight to see who can watch our pets/hens while we are on vacation. I put in an automatic water-er and our big feed bin keeps them in grain for a month. So, all the neighbors have to do is bring the girls treats and open the egg door for free eggs. I like to free range the girls watching the faces of walkers trying to figure out what those chickens are doing in our yard.

    Have a great day

  8. Laurie says:

    We take our chickens visiting kids in the neighborhood, and they come over to visit. The kids love to feed them pieces of bread and stroke their feathers. It seems every kid is fascinated by their FEET! Other people love the interesting sounds they make. I’ve also found that offers of fresh eggs are accepted by adult neighbors more readily than zucchini. Animals make good icebreakers to get people talking, often leading to stories about the old days…

  9. Wendy says:

    All of my immediate neighbors love our homesteading efforts – including the chickens. The one across the street has commissioned a dozen eggs per week and pays my children $2 for them, because she loves when my five year old and seven year old hand deliver the colorful eggs in a basket (we have two leghorns, a plymouth rock, a buff orpington, an araucuna and an australorp – and so our eggs make a very pretty dozen ;).

    The neighbor on the other side is elderly and spent his youth living “off the land” on an island off the east coast where they grew or foraged everything they ate (including seagull eggs). He thinks our homesteading efforts are fantastic and loves to see us out there tending our “flock” or planting or harvesting. He and his wife are always curious to see what we’re going to do next. They homesteaded their acre next door when they were younger, and I think they’re actually relieved to see someone doing what they had done. They’ve gifted us dozens of canning supplies.

    We also share a lot of what we grow, and I’m always taking a loaf of some kind of bread or a jar of some kind of preserves to one neighbor or the other – and I did this even before we had chickens. We live in a small neighborhood and being “neighborly” has just enriched our lives so much.

  10. EmilyB says:

    We didn’t even think of the neighbours when we got the chooks, we live on just under 1/2 an acre. (Great neighbours aren’t we!)
    I was suprised one day when our elderly neighbour commented how much she liked to hear them clucking as it reminded her of the farm she grew up on. I often see her up the back talking to the chooks through the fence.
    They are great for bringing people together and a great topic of conversation!
    But hey how can you NOT like chooks????

  11. Anais says:

    Hello Folks – Great comments and stories everyone. Thanks for sharing

    Nancy – Thanks for you comments. Yes, Rooster can be a bit of a handful.

    FYI James Herriot died of cancer

    “Wight was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992, and underwent treatment in the Lambert Memorial Hospital in Thirsk. He died 23 February 1995, aged 78, at home in Thirlby[1].” courtesy

    As for the front garden. Since we smothered the lawn back in 1990 it’s been constant learning experience. One essential factor is succession plantings.

    Hope this helps.

  12. Just for Laughs | Barnyards and Backyards says:

    […] Clementine is our oldest living chicken at currently 9 years of age.  She doesn't lay anymore… but she has no worries!  She's still my baby and we don't eat our chickens.  In fact, she's very, very, very spoiled. Share […]

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