Chickens seem to be all over the news these days. There's the on-going saga of the Roswell Chicken Man, who enlisted former governor Roy Barnes-turned-lawyer to help him fight City Hall only to have 1/3 of his chickens die of suspected poisoning. And in Decatur's Oakhurst neighborhood, no one will soon forget Chicken Gate 2011, which involved a blogger known as Crazy Chicken Lady. Even Paula Deen has been involved with a poultry scandal after being busted by Chatham County (Savannah) for keeping unauthorized cluckers.
From intown to exurb, metro Atlantans swear by their backyard chickens, espousing the sustainable benefits of local food growth and humane livestock practices. Many seem to form a loving relationship with the animals, holding them like babies and giving them names like Morty and Bella. According to some enthusiasts, waking up in the morning to feed your chickens is a meditative exercise. An exercise rewarded with eggs and fertilizer. What's not to love?
Well, as Paula found out, not all municipalities are hip to the local food movement. Also, controversy stems from neighbors afraid of the smell and potential rodent infestations. Frequently there's the mention of noise, although roosters aren't needed unless you plan on extending your brood. Even though wannabe backyard farmers often face an uphill battle, more than a few tools are available to help them through the process.
The Atlanta Backyard Poultry Group Meetup Group is an online community where birds of a feather can...I'll spare you with the chicken puns. It was started up by none other than the Chicken Whisperer, probably Atlanta's greatest yard coop advocate. The group has over 1,600 members, and it's a place where you can share info, post pictures, and plan get togethers. A quick look at past meetups revealed locations from Conyers to Alpharetta to Douglasville. Atlanta and Decatur are also hotbeds of chick activity, which you can experience by attending the annual Urban Coop Tour (Sep 24/25). Another great intown resource is the Oakhurst Community Garden, which will be holding a Coop Construction 101 class in November. One look at a face like that, and you might fall in love too.