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Thread: Urban livestock and other critters

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Urban livestock and other critters

    As posted in the thread on bee keeping, at least one other poster thinks of urban livestock as fad. Working on a sustainable code for Greensburg, I wanted to throw in all the current thinking. Many in Greensburg have very close ties to the nearby farms, often a relative still operates the old family stead. No one had any problems with urban horticuture. When I suggested urban livestock the nearly unanimous response was that they left the farm to get away from all that (stuff).

    I discussed the benefits of raising chickens. One response was that neighbors might not care for decapitation next door. Another said "if it is chickens now, later someone would bring in guineas and turkeys--and you know what a problem they are". (Everyone appeared to know the problem with guineas and turkeys.)

    I have fond memories of growing up on a farm. Mucking out stalls, creating a manure pile, letting it compost, spreading it on the soil for fertilizer. I also remember that our house was on a hill above all the crap. I remember my dog killing my goat. I remember trying to clean out a chicken coop.

    Proponents of urban livestock do not seem to know all these values of farming. Either they think that all participants will be as tidy and caring as they are...or they expect code enforcement to handle any "issues".

    I suspect that communities embracing urban livestock will in a few years be wringing their hands, trying to find ways to solve the "problem".

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post

    Proponents of urban livestock do not seem to know all these values of farming. Either they think that all participants will be as tidy and caring as they are...or they expect code enforcement to handle any "issues".

    I suspect that communities embracing urban livestock will in a few years be wringing their hands, trying to find ways to solve the "problem".
    Grist has an article up linked by Planetizen about Denver's urban gardens. I know several of the people in the article and also at Delaney Farm. It is surprising the number of young kids who worked the farm for the summer several seasons ago who were surprised at how much work it is and it is dirty and tiring and your schedule is secondary to natures' and all that. And when the conversation turns to the chicken fad, many seem surprised that you can't go to Nepal or Amsterdam for three weeks and come back and expect your chickens to be alive, let alone to Breckenridge or Vail for a 4-day.

    Nonetheless, I think only a few will be availing themselves of the chicken. I suspect there will be some rescue farms that will take some abandoned birds in, but fortunately food closets need food. It'll go away, a few will enjoy their birds, and a new fad will arise. Vertical gardens or something.

  3. #3
    My parents and grandparents were farmworkers. I'll be darned if I or any of my decedents will ever work on a farm. Its one of the worst, lowest paid, dangerous thing to do. No one with any other opportunities does it.

    But I do love my garden.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    A friend and neighbor spent some time in Egypt, where he helped create Habitat in Egypt, where 96% of the people live on 4% of the land.

    In much of Cairo the typical dwelling has domestic animals occupying the ground floor, while the humans live one floor up.

    One reason for this is periodic flooding that leaves the ground floor ankle deep for days at a time....something to do with the effect of the Aswan dam.
    Last edited by fringe; 09 Jun 2010 at 8:15 AM. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    As posted in the thread on bee keeping, at least one other poster thinks of urban livestock as fad. Working on a sustainable code for Greensburg, I wanted to throw in all the current thinking. Many in Greensburg have very close ties to the nearby farms, often a relative still operates the old family stead. No one had any problems with urban horticuture. When I suggested urban livestock the nearly unanimous response was that they left the farm to get away from all that (stuff).

    I discussed the benefits of raising chickens. One response was that neighbors might not care for decapitation next door. Another said "if it is chickens now, later someone would bring in guineas and turkeys--and you know what a problem they are". (Everyone appeared to know the problem with guineas and turkeys.)

    I have fond memories of growing up on a farm. Mucking out stalls, creating a manure pile, letting it compost, spreading it on the soil for fertilizer. I also remember that our house was on a hill above all the crap. I remember my dog killing my goat. I remember trying to clean out a chicken coop.

    Proponents of urban livestock do not seem to know all these values of farming. Either they think that all participants will be as tidy and caring as they are...or they expect code enforcement to handle any "issues".

    I suspect that communities embracing urban livestock will in a few years be wringing their hands, trying to find ways to solve the "problem".
    Having grown up on a farm, I love the lifestyle, but I know very well it's hard work for little profit, which is why I'm a computer programmer. The people who are advocating urban livestock seem to be utterly clueless about the issues, so they haven't been farmers for several generations ... probably some since their ancestors left "the old country".

    I plan on moving back to the old family farm when I retire in a few years, and I will raise a large garden and keep a couple of horses. However, I will NOT raise chickens, pigs, goats, or cattle much less turkeys, guinea or pea fowl or geese. I don't mind shovelling the poop or getting up every single day at 6 am to feed and water or even being tied to the critters ... I mind that said critters eventually end up as dinner ...

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    My parents and grandparents were farmworkers. I'll be darned if I or any of my decedents will ever work on a farm. Its one of the worst, lowest paid, dangerous thing to do. No one with any other opportunities does it.

    But I do love my garden.
    I guarantee none of your decedents will work on a farm, other than by pushing up plants. (A decedent is a dead person.)

    I love language.

    But back on topic, yes, I think to a large extent the urban agriculture movement is a craze. I hope we don't reach a point where it is a necessity, such as it was (I am told) in the depression or WWII. But I think enough people are on board with sustainability that some will make good use of the opportunity. Some will tire of the work and mess, some will do a bad job and either kill their animals or bring in enough vermin to cause neighbors to demand action by the city. Meanwhile, I get fresh eggs from a friend who has four chickens and can't use all the eggs he gets from them.

    BTW, we allow chickens but prohibit peafowl. Upon allowing chickens a surprising number of contraband chickens were outed.
    Seldom right, never in doubt

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I guess you could count me among those clueless folks who didn't grow up on a farm that's a proponent of urban/peri-urban agriculture (including husbandry). It's because I'm not privy to esoteric information available only to folks with agrarian backgrounds (for instance, that livestock/poultry poop is messy and stinks, or that animals need to eat apparently every day - who would have suspected?) that allows me to carry on with my beliefs.

    As to whether the whole urban ag thing is a simply the latest Birkenstock fad or the shape of things to come depends a great deal on certain future technological advances. As fossil fuels become more scarce the cost of producing and transporting food will rise. When that happens market forces will drive people to both live closer to food sources and also drive food production closer to population centers - simple economic necessity. This, of course, presupposes no other miracle technology like fusion power will step in allowing current land use patterns to continue. The day that happens will be the day all the effete urban ag poseurs happily lay down their pitchforks and go skiing at Vail.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I guess you could count me among those clueless folks who didn't grow up on a farm that's a proponent of urban/peri-urban agriculture (including husbandry). It's because I'm not privy to esoteric information available only to folks with agrarian backgrounds (for instance, that livestock/poultry poop is messy and stinks, or that animals need to eat apparently every day - who would have suspected?) that allows me to carry on with my beliefs.

    As to whether the whole urban ag thing is a simply the latest Birkenstock fad or the shape of things to come depends a great deal on certain future technological advances. As fossil fuels become more scarce the cost of producing and transporting food will rise. When that happens market forces will drive people to both live closer to food sources and also drive food production closer to population centers - simple economic necessity. This, of course, presupposes no other miracle technology like fusion power will step in allowing current land use patterns to continue. The day that happens will be the day all the effete urban ag poseurs happily lay down their pitchforks and go skiing at Vail.
    I get your snark and I teach community gardener classes on occasion to help folks gain knowledge.

    The issue IMHO is the romanticism, locavore, etc lifestyle framing that is selling something based on half-information.

    We have been separated from nature for generations and we don't seem to be able to transfer knowledge back to folks who want their food sans petrochemicals without cartoonizing or fairy-taleing the process and the methods. Then people start in whole-hog (so to speak) and are disappointed when all their tomatoes aren't blemish-free and bugs chomp down all their lettuce.

    The knowledge transfer must be made fairy-tale free for this to work. Our sanitized, work-free, boxed society doesn't know how to do this very well at scale.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I think there's a big difference between raising livestock on suitable spaces within urban/suburban areas and every third household attempting to raise livestock of some kind on 5000 square foot lots.
    • In some of the Great Lakes cities that have lost significant population like Detroit, Youngstown, and Buffalo, I could see the cities establishing urban agricultural zoning that would allow people to raise chickens/goats/possibly even cattle on 2-5 acre or larger urban farms that were once urban neighborhoods.
    • In fast growing metros, some suburban towns may establish "farm preserves" or agriculture districts to enable farmers to resist development and maintain greenspace.
    • Some grocery chains (Wegmans in upstate NYS for example) already promote local agricultural products, including eggs and dairy as well as produce. I believe Wegmans also promotes locally raised beef as well.
    • In just about any NYS grocery store outside of metro, you can purchase dairy products from your local dairy coop -- all you have to do is look for the coop name/address on the label.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    I guarantee none of your decedents will work on a farm, other than by pushing up plants. (A decedent is a dead person.)

    I love language.
    And most likely, they will make fewer spelling errors.

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