My Edmonds Food: Residents bringing the chickens home to roost

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    Sue Bauer with her Americana chicken named Annabelle.
    Bauer's and Bernheim's two German Shepherds share a peaceful co-existence with the hens. (Photo courtesy of Sue Bauer)

    Story and photos by Lara Alexander

    “We call ourselves the Chicken Tenders,” laughs Sue Bauer, referring to the group of Edmonds residents who flocked together in 2009 to advocate for a change in the city’s ban against owning chickens. “People had the misconception that you need a rooster to get eggs from your chickens, and that isn’t true,” she says.

    It was at a City of Edmonds planning board meeting this month two years ago, that a few of these “Chicken Tenders” spoke in front of the City of Edmonds Planning Board, sharing their positive experiences with raising hens. The board understood the issue of domestic hens as a way to further the Council’s, “goals of sustainability through encouraging locally-grown and naturally-produced

    The flock in the backyard.
    Eggs from the hens.

    Bauer, wife of City Councilmember Steve Bernheim, recruited her 10-year-old neighbor to help her build a coop and brought home her first hens. “They are really easy,” Bauer said of having chickens as pets. “People are naturally afraid of their sharp beaks and nails, but they are very tame.” Her two German Shephards took to the hens easily and even allowed them to ride on their back when they were still chicks.

    Unfortunately, Bauer does not own all of the original chicks that she brought home. One grew into a rooster and was quickly given away and one met her demise at the eager hands of a raccoon when a coop door was left unhatched. Bauer now owns three beautiful hens, two Buff Orpinghtons named Henrietta and Beverly Sills, “we call her Bubbles,” and one particularly friendly Americana breed named Annabell, who lays light greenish-blue eggs.

    “We get an egg a day from each of them in the summer,” says Bauer, “and an egg every three days in the winter.” Collecting the eggs every day, she says, really connects her to the source and prompts bigger questions about food. Since owning chickens, Bauer has become a Livestock Advisor, trained to answer questions about animal husbandry for small farmers and backyard suburban homesteaders.

    The City of Edmonds, like many neighboring cities, allows up to three female chickens per residential lot. If you have questions about raising chickens, you can contact the WSU Livestock Advisor Program by calling 360-428-4270 or e-mailing your questions to joanrd@co.skagit.wa.us

    A culinary adventurer, Lara Alexander grows, cooks and writes about food from her home in Edmonds. You can read about her garden and kitchen fun on the blog Food-Soil-Thread.

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