Chicken round up

Me (left) with Frida Chicken in hand – just after being caught at a chicken round-up.

What’s my story? My name is Jen Pitino, and I am a chicken enthusiast living in Boise.  Though most people tend to think “rural” when they think of Idaho, I didn’t grow up on a farm and was never around chickens as a child. Today I keep a small flock of urban chickens in my small home located in the downtown area along with my little gray cat, cleverly named, “Kitty.” The hens and cat are still negotiating the pecking order between species. Mostly, Kitty gets chased and harassed by the birds.

Am I a “professional” chicken keeper? Playing flock master is not what I primarily do for a living.  I have a ‘real job’ that pays the mortgage and provides me with a dental plan. By day, I work as a criminal attorney.  This is not nearly as glamorous a gig as all

Araucana hen on a hammock

Me and Amelia enjoying the hammock

of the television dramas would have you believe.  I cannot stomach watching any lawyer shows because what they depict as “lawyering” would get an attorney disbarred in the real world.  I like what I do, but it takes a toll.  When I come home, I don’t want to think about any of the unsavory characters that I dealt with all day.  Home is my sanctuary and evenings are when I focus on my chickens, rides in the hammock (preferably with a friend), gardening, writing and podcasting.

I have to admit, I am not much of a Martha Stewart wannabe.  With my limited free-time I am not stenciling birds on household items (think “Put a Bird on It” Portlandia segment Watch HERE), making homemade greeting cards or sewing my own clothing.  Frankly, there aren’t enough hours in my days to get all of that done.  (Seriously, who has time to hand-make all of their Christmas gifts?!) Showing you how to make homemade bath salts sachets or any other cute but pointless crafts (i.e. dust collector) is not what this website/show is about.  I was raised by no-nonsense people and my approach is focused on function, not fluff (though I do have a rich appreciation for plenty of nonsense when it comes to humor, snark and the bizarre).

Why chickens?  I keep backyard chickens because they soothing to my soul.  For real!  If I did a vision quest, I fully expect my spirit animal would be the chicken.

But how did I get into chickens?  Honestly, I sort of own backyard chickens by accident.

Chickens came suddenly and unexpectedly into my life.  It was at an Independence Day celebration that I entered the adult division of a chicken round-up on a lark. If you are unfamiliar with “chicken round-ups,” they are competitions where you are placed into a ring with other contestants and a bunch of loose chickens.  Any chicken you can catch, you get to keep.

I ran around the round-up ring (like a nut), dove and caught my very first chicken (who I call Frida Kahlo Chicken) by her little pullet leg as she tried to escape me. It was both thrilling and terrifying to be the new owner of this little black bird.  I had no idea what to do with my little founding flock member and no place to keep her.  Since that fateful Fourth of July, I have hand built two chicken coops out of reclaimed materials and bought Frida some friends.

Video of the 0-5 Years Old Division at the Chicken Round-up:

I am self-taught in the world of all things chicken as well as blogging/podcasting.  My birds consequently are both the beneficiaries and victims of my ‘learning-as-I-go’ approach.  (Perhaps, this can also be said of my podcast audience as well.)  Under my autodidactic approach, I am constantly researching and trying new ideas with the birds and the show/website.  What works well I keep, cut what fails and try the next idea.  As a result, my backyard chickens and podcasting experience is ever-evolving and adapting.

Why start a podcast (and blog) about keeping urban chickens?  As a new chicken keeper, I decided that if I was going to learn all of these new backyard chicken keeping

Me and Sylvia (the rooster)

Me and Sylvia (the rooster)

skills and information, that I should share what I learned with others.  Knowing not a damn thing about building a website or the recording, editing, publishing of podcasts, I started this journey by watching countless hours of “how-to” YouTube videos that slowly taught me the basics. (Thank you to all of those generous individuals who created the videos that taught me what I needed to know!)  In March of 2013, I launched the Urban Chicken Podcast to (hopefully) teach and entertain others on the topic of backyard chicken ownership.

What is the Mission of the Urban Chicken Podcast?   I firmly believe that people should not have to choose between living in the city and living a healthy and relaxed lifestyle.  In a world of large agribusiness and factory farms, it is important to be able to grow and raise some of our own food right where we live.  Keeping backyard chickens is an integral component of food freedom and self-reliance.  There is no reason why anyone should be prohibited from enjoying all of the benefits of living in town while maintaining a micro-scale farm in the yard (complete with hens, of course!)  Local ordinances and onerous subdivision CC&Rs run diametrically counter to the very foundation of private landownership.  As home owners we should all have the right to utilize our land to our private benefit without government intrusion and “neighborly” meddling.

Chicks on my cheeks - I can't get enough of baby chicks!

Chicks on my cheeks – I can’t get enough of baby chicks!

The Urban Chicken Podcast was founded to provide its audience with the best information on all topics chicken.  I want the show and website to serve all chicken owners and enthusiasts as a useful and enjoyable resource.  (Chickens are fun – let’s embrace and celebrate them!)  To this end, I pledge to bring you well-researched material and host knowledgeable experts on the show. Your chicken questions, stories and photos are warmly welcomed – and I will try to answer any chicken inquiry you pose. Truly, I want to be of service to you, my audience.

I continue to keep a little slice of the bucolic dream alive in my downtown home’s backyard – I hope you have created yourself such a space in your own backyard.  Let me share the joys of chicken-keeping with you whether you are in the city or country and already have your own flock or are still just daydreaming about getting your own set of hens for the yard.

So tune into the Urban Chicken Podcast and learn a little something to help make life for you and your birds a bit easier and better!

Your “Chicken Sister” –