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Alt News
The Chicken Whisperer
September 25, 2011
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Over at Atlantic Cities there's a fun piece about Chicago's Jennifer Murtoff, who supplements her freelance editing, writing, and translating gigs with a decidedly more bucolic part-time job - she's an "urban chicken consultant".

Murtoff, who started raising chickens in rural Pennsylvania when she was in the fourth grade, has taught 230 urban clients in Chicago how to build a chicken coop, how to spot a sick bird, and what to do if they want to turn their daily egg supplier into a homemade bucket of drumsticks and wings.

To what does she attribute the modest-yet-significant demand for her services? She told Atlantic Cities:

"I think it's the economy...Seriously, with people losing jobs, it's nice to have a bird in your backyard that can give you breakfast. I think that's part of it. And we're starting to wake up to what's going on with our food system."

"A lot of the people I talk to don't have that cultural knowledge, the farming knowledge has been lost... We're dealing with a generation that for the most part hasn't had chickens. I do have some clients who say, 'I remember my grandpa had chickens... .' Most of them, this is a new thing. It's knowledge that has to be passed along again because we're missing one of the links in the chain."

There are currently only six municipalities in Canada where backyard chickens are legal: Niagara Falls, Brampton, Guelph, Victoria, Vancouver and Surrey. If you happen to live in one of those fine places - or if you have a devil-may-care attitude toward the fine-writing wrath of your local bylaw officer - check out this Canadian Living piece for some Jennifer Murtoff-type tips on how to add some feathered friends to your backyard.


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