When I became seriously involved in creating neighbor-friendly settings for chickens in the Bay Area, I found there were few resources for those of us who live in Southern Alameda County.
Since Castro Valley has a history as the Chicken Capital, it just seems logical to revive chicken enthusiasm to fit today's lifestyles.
Over the past four years, we have relandscaped both our front and back yards to be bay friendly gardens — a mixture of edibles and plants that grow well in our climate zone. Henny and Penny, our resident Gingernut Rangers, are the latest addition to the family and the goal is to incorporate them into our established landscape.
For those of you who have been following Henny and Penny on my blog Fingers In The Dirt, you'll remember the begining when they arrived at the post office. The first weeks when I thought they would be friendly additions to the yard and tread gently on the earth, the first cute coop and run, the loss of flowers and kale, the holes in the drip irrigation system. We have now finished their final gated community — Hensongs — and we're all settled in with a backyard and neighbor-friendly chicken home.
Backyard chicken ranching is all about meeting the challenges as they come. Left to their own chickeny devices, our yard would resemble a moonscape in no time.
What works for one urban garden does not usually always work for all. Our goal is to present options for blending our human and feathered friends and family — hoping that the choices we make will help the rest of you as you add chickens to your city dwellings.
The summer garden has been planted. Strawberries, blueberries, limes, lemons and apples are ripening. Tomato plants are loaded with fruit; green beans and herbs are growing nicely.
I hope you'll join me as I chronicle the successes and challenges of this year's kitchen garden and Henny and Penny's views from their little backyard world.