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Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Not worth it?

Not worth it?

A former member
Post #: 97
I have had chickens as a adult the last 12 years, and it started with a trio of bantam Cochins and my 4 year old son. The last of the original trio just died of old age on Monday evening, and even though my big teenager has gone on to baseball, surfing and social interests, he was very sad at Henrietta's passing. Sentimental things do matter to us humans, we just put those sentiments in different places. In our case, it was our chicken pets who happen to give us eggs. We have 11 now, and each has a distinctive personality, demeanor, and habits that we recognize and find humor and delight in noting. Having chickens is really not so different from many other interests and endeavors that people do in life. When it is intellectually and spiritually satisfying---whether it be welding, collecting stamps, playing tennis, growing native plants or any of a million pursuits, it becomes not a matter of the financial outlay in determining the satisfaction, but how much you LOVE IT.
Chris L.
LaLoomis
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 59
Hi Tyson, I can understand reevaluating your investment as other things become higher priorities in your life. There's only so much time in a day to get everything done.

I think you and I had similar motivations in raising chickens and there are certainly days when I tally up all the time and money I've spent and wonder if it's worth it. For me, the more time that goes by, the more I feel the investment is worth it. I spent about $400 and lots of weekends building the coop and run but I'm hoping it will last 10 years or more. It's too bad that all the expense comes in the beginning before you start to enjoy the rewards.

My chickens aren't pets, and although I enjoy spending time with them, caring for them only takes about 10 minutes a day. They have automatic feeders and waterers and I could probably leave them unattended for a week and they would be OK.

Taking a break from chickens seems like a reasonable choice. As long as you keep the coop you can always start up again later if you feel like it.

Pete K.
user 54883572
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 5
I've enjoyed reading this thread.

This is obviously very personal. I've found it quite satisfying so far, and my two boys love having the chickens back there. I think about food, society, education, entertainment, sustainability, linear production (the US model) vs. cyclical production (nature's model), and even "why we're here" quite differently as a result merely of gardening and chickens. In Ghandi's India the revolutionary act was spinning your own cloth. In today's US the revolutionary act is growing your own food.

I have to admit, having kept chickens for almost a year I see sense in the viewpoint of Helen and Scott Nearing. Like me they were vegetarian, but they also felt that keeping any livestock was not worth the trouble (it's simply less work to grow only plants), and unwholesome in the sense that livestock are slaves. I still enjoy eating eggs, but further along this path I can see eventually giving up the chickens and the eggs. Also, I have to admit that buying feed feels like cheating from a sustainability point of view... it would take a lot of land and effort to grow that feed. I suspect if we all had to grow our own feed most of us would quickly come to agree with the Nearings!
Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 200
Hi Pete -
I see your point about not keeping livestock . . . but I read something interesting recently in regards to the election - the Republican platform includes a provision to safeguard the US's supply of . . . . fertilizer. It turns out, according to the report, that a majority of our chemical fertilizers now come from overseas, and the mines that supply them have a limited amount (we're talking nitrogen and phosphorus, I think, but don't quote me). The interesting note was that the main importer of chemical fertilizer components is a company called Koch. I can only assume that means the Koch brothers, who are heavily financing Romney's bid for the presidency.

None of which is significant, except that, if you intend to continue to grow your own food, you are wise to also have a home-grown supply of fertilizer. Composted plant material on its own, I think, may not be enough to replenish the soil. Animal activity has always been a component of the growth cycle, so it strikes me that livestock are a partner in our efforts to grow food, whether we're growing plants or meat.

If any of what I've said is not accurate please set me straight - I only know what I read on the interwebs, and we all know that if it's online, it must be true . . . . wink
Cheers to a very interesting thread.
Pete K.
user 54883572
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 7
Well, I'm still far from the Nearing's level of blazing purity. Talk to me after I build a beautiful stone house for my family from stones scattered around my property. Until then I'll enjoy my chickens and their eggs! Anyway, I highly recommend their book _Living the Good Life_.

I suspect composted plant material is enough to replenish the soil... at least over the medium term... but I'm not sure. I'm still a soil novice. In any case, buying poop is cheap. And... need I say it... there's always your own...
A former member
Post #: 221
a majority of our chemical fertilizers now come from overseas, and the mines that supply them have a limited amount (we're talking nitrogen and phosphorus, I think, but don't quote me).

Hi Cynthia,

I didn't even know the parties had a platform until last night, during LA mayor Villaraigosa's botched vote at the Democratic National Convention (link), and subsequently Villaraigosa and Wasserman-Schultz trying to massage the screw-up.

Anyhow, regarding fertilizers, I think it will happen regardless of what it says in the platform(s), because fracking has dramatically altered the energy industry in the United States, rippling trough other energy-intensive sectors such as fertilizers. As the long-term supply for natural gas is increasing while its price keeps dropping, the coal industry is bankrupt, nuclear is on hold, and it seems alternative energy such as large-scale wind farms and PVs is slowing down considerably. It is major.



According to today's WSJ (Sep 6, B1, "Egyptian Bets $1.4 Billion on Natural Gas—In Iowa"), "The U.S. imports more than half of its nitrogen-based fertilizer." The article says there are at least three new fertilizer plants opening up in the States, while other plants are increasing capacity.
A former member
Post #: 73
I appreciate all the input and consideration people have given in responding to this thread. Becoming someone that has chickens seems like such an easy and healthful decision but a lot of other factors weigh in and sometimes those aren't addressed as succinctly as they could be i.e. how much do you expect to spend, what are your goals, what are your primary motivations for owning chickens, how much time can you devote in a week to maintaining your chickens? These questions have become more important past the "jumping in and getting used to your chickens phase" that lasts about a year. Priorities can change, like having children.

That said my situation has improved here. I think I've managed to keep predation at bay for the moment- my girls have all learned to go to the coop at night where I can lock them in. The predators seem to be dismayed, the girls are getting along as much as I can expect, harmony is somewhat restored.

I do believe this is an experience that goes beyond simple economics of egg laying, it's a connection with your food and the origins of it, but only JUST so, once that balance becomes a problem then considerations of ending the whole thing become dominant. I want this experience for my daughter, and it demonstrates a commitment to a closer understanding of where our food comes from. Clearly, a valuable lesson. It just requires balance.

The chickens stay for the next couple years.

Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 201
Yay! I'm glad to hear things are working out.
Holly B.
user 61868982
Rosemead, CA
Post #: 1
I'm a newbie here, considering getting started with egg hens in my backyard. Right now I'm in the research phase and this string of posts has been very helpful!
Pete K.
user 54883572
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 8
I get my horse poop from Tim, our local Altadena poop guru. Technically, he only charges a delivery fee; the poop itself is free. I don't have a truck, and when you consider all the work of loading it, etc. his delivery charge ain't bad.

I still have a lot to learn about soil. It's a fascinating topic. I bought several cubic yards of soil for my beds, and even though I called around and asked lots of questions before buying I'm not happy with what I bought. Hopefully a generous helping of horse poop will help it a little. But yeah, caveat emptor certainly applies in the field of dirt and poop. Once the truck dumps those 5 cubic yards, there are no returns. And unless you're already an expert you won't find out if it's any good until you try growing a garden in it.

But this is a chicken forum, sorry for veering off topic. This stuff is all connected.
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