The National Museum of Animals & Society just opened near my place in Los Angeles and they have an interesting exhibit, "Uncooped" which explores the question "What does it mean to be chicken?" I was lucky enough to attend a panel discussion on chicken advocacy with Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns and Susie Coston of Farm Sanctuary. Not many people may be aware that chickens and turkeys are not protected from abuse at slaughter because they are excluded from the US federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. This causes problems for both chickens and farm workers. More info about this pressing issue can be found in this article: http://www.peta.org/blog/stop-eating-chickens/
I also realized a lot of people didn't know that I had the pleasure of raising some very happy and fascinating chickens. Spending time and learning about my "ladies" has been a rewarding experience that I don't think a lot of people get to enjoy. Especially in cities.
Let me introduce you to Lenore, Mabel, and Clementine. Lenore and Mabel are American Plymouth Rocks and Clementine is a British Buff Orpington but all three are Los Angeles chicks. We have bonded over our love of food, especially Sexie Veggies.
This is Lenore. The zoning laws in Silverlake allow for chickens but not roosters. They say when chickens live without a rooster one lady will step up to be the "rooster" of the group. Our lady "rooster" is Lenore. She's always been a bit spunky and daring since she was a little chick and it's only increased as she got older. When the coop is unlocked in the morning she is usually the first out the door & immediately flies on top of the coop to survey the scene. She maintains the top of the "pecking" order and tries to challenge my authority with pecks as well. She is quite the character!
The next in line is Mabel. She is tough, resourceful, and independent. At some point in her "adolescent" days she suffered an injury to her left eye and now doesn't see very well through it. But even with this disability she still maintains a mid-level status on the pecking order and is an excellent marksman at pecking small specks of food with remarkable accuracy. Mabel also has a soft side to her and is comfortable with petting. Anytime I sit on the ground she is the first to climb on my leg and let me stroke her back feathers.
Finally, this is Clementine. She is the biggest and most beautiful of the ladies yet she unfortunately falls to the bottom of the pecking order. Anytime special treats like tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, or apples are offered, if she doesn't snag a piece right away, she often has to wait to get the leftovers. Clementine is the sweetest chicken but, surprisingly, the only one to challenge the little chihuahua who lives on the farm. She has even chased the dog across the yard! Watching Clementine run is a really funny sight.
Those are my three ladies. I'll share more about our adventures in the months to come. In the meantime, if you are in Los Angeles, stop by the National Museum of Animals & Society or check out the "Uncooped" exhibit online. And maybe consider having less of these interesting creatures on your dinner plate.
*Update: Our sweet independent Mabel was put to sleep after battling an immunodeficiency disorder that was destroying her red blood cells. She was a good little chicken and is greatly missed. xoxo
*Update: Our "rooster," Lenore, passed this morning. She will be greatly missed. xoxo