The purchase of a cow for the family farm was the first step in launching a family farm. The cow, milked twice a day, provided raw milk full of beneficial bacteria, a means to make cheese, yogurt and butter. The cow could also be bred and produce more cows which could be fattened and butchered or sold. The manure from the cow was used to fertilize the fields and gardens. Today, city ordinances don’t allow us to have cows. Chickens are the new status symbol for urban dwellers striving for more self-sufficiency.
In Minneapolis, people are allowed to have chickens if they get the permission of their immediate neighbors. Typically, people keep 2 or 3 hens. They produce more than enough eggs daily for a family of 4. Some neighborhoods keep chickens as a community effort. They take turns keeping the coop clean and feeding the chickens. Everyone benefits from having fresh eggs from free range chickens. After a couple of years, the hens stop laying. The hens can be butchered or given away or kept as pets. There are rescue organizations devoted to rehoming chickens who no longer produce eggs but are a lovely edition to the yard. They keep the gardens free of slugs and fertilize as they go!