Tuesday, May 18, 2010

urban farming for beginners

Is urban farming such a good idea for beginners? My husband told me about an article he read yesterday that our current mayor wants to make it legal for folks to have up to 8 chickens per home and be able to sell the eggs and food they grow in their garden. That sounds really cool except for a few small problems. Today's city folk tend to not know how to do stuff like grow food and tend chickens and many don't seem particularly interested in learning.

I would definitely be concerned about who I'm buying food from that is grown in their city yard. I've seen people line their raised beds with treated wood, which means every time they water, trace amounts of arsenic leach into the soil. There's plenty of people who still scrape their old houses before repainting and do not pick up all the lead paint chips which decompose in their soil. Cars leak oil, neighbors use all sorts of herbicides and pesticides that leak into the neighbor's yard when it rains because the lots are so close together. Plus, not everyone is responsible about keeping chickens. My three chickens poop all the time and it seems like I'm out there every other day cleaning up chicken poop. I'd have to be out there twice a day with eight chickens in our tiny yard. And let's face it, the average city dweller does not want to pick up chicken poop. Half my neighbors can't even pick up dog poop.

People with an urban mindset are fine. They have plenty of strengths they are just different from me. And the truth it, the typical urban dweller does not want to go to the lengths one needs to have happy, healthy chickens or to make sure they have healthy soil to grow their food in. The majority of my friends don't even want to go out to the stable with me to see my horse because it's "kinda dirty and cold cause everything it outside".

If this were the Great Depression it would make more sense. The majority of people in the 1930's had some experience with farming and livestock at some point in their life because their food sources were so much closer to home. Now there are plenty of people I know who won't even cook a whole chicken because it looks too much like a "real chicken". It's like giving a toddler a baby bunny for Easter. It sounds like a great idea until the reality of taking care of the bunny hits the family and two months later they're letting it loose at Greenlake.

Speaking of bunnies at Greenlake, they were all rounded up and taken away or killed or something a few years ago and I was very sad about that. Then just the other day we were passing Greenlake Park and I saw a wild bunny! Yay! Many years ago before I was a mom and I worked full-time, I would drive by Greenlake on my way to work every morning and if I saw bunnies it was a sign to me that it would be a good day. It was pretty cool to see a bunny again. Although for the sake of the land in that area, it would behoove the city to introduce natural predators to keep the population down. But since having wolves and eagles living at Greenlake is not practical, I think they should have one day a month to shut down the park area except for people who bring their dogs to hunt the bunnies. But well, the majority of Seattle probably would consider that horrifying. Just as eating chicken that looks like a "real chicken" is horrifying.

I'm sounding a little bitter, aren't I? I really don't mean to, it's just frustrating when it seems like our city government doesn't think things out and just makes laws based on blind idealism.

On a happier note I had a good ride on my horse this morning. And I helped Juan turn out some of the horses. My horse's pasture mate Ziggy is sure a handful, and he's really big (over 16h). He's not so bad I can't control him but he gets all riled up and as soon as we turned the corner to cross the bridge over the creek to where the pastures are he started doing his little happy dance and Girlfriend called to him and that just made him more ancy. Oddly, I took Tyee in for Juan and although he warned me (like he does every time) "Be Careful - this one crazy" Tyee was very mellow with me. He even let out a big sigh of relaxation after I put on his lead rope. He did try to bite me when I put him in his stall (as though being good all the way in from the pasture was a mistake and as an afterthought he felt he needed to be pissy) but I just shoved his nose away and said no and he didn't do it again. When he was younger he'd just try over and over again to bite me. I really like him even if he does get bored easily and start misbehaving.

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