This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I just assumed chickens were not allowed in my suburban town. But I have been very surprised to learn otherwise. No roosters, but chickens are OK. There's even a chicken-owners support group (sound like its some sort of bad habit).

It seems a hen needs about 4 square feet of coop space. Lets see, a flock of five ia 5 x 5 ft coop, heated I assume.... I'm excited to start learning about keeping backyard chickens. My yard is about 40 x 70 feet and if they don't mind sharing with a cute dog, well, we'll see....

Here's an excerpt from an informative post: "I actually have had chickens for 3 years in Belmont. The first year I had 2 hens and the second year I added two more hens to bring my total up to 4 hens. I hope to go to 5 this year. Yes they eat grass when it is growing. They also eat weeds and bugs. I feed them my dinner leftovers, the heals of bread,and vegetables and fruit peels. In summer they get tomatoes from my community garden plot and other extra or damaged veggies. They also get chicken feed which is mostly grain. They are omnivores like us, so unlike herbivores such as sheep and cows they need protein and can not live on grass alone. As far as space goes for backyard chickens, the rule of thumb is at least 4 sq feet each in the coop and at least 10 sq feet each in a run. More space is always nice though. I have a run that is 4ft by 16 feet but my hens are often allowed to roam free in my fenced in backyard. It's about 30 x 50 feet I'd guess. They must be fenced out of a vegetable garden or the will eat it. Many people also build them movable pens called chicken tractors so the hens can be moved to a fresh area of grass each day. This gives the hens fresh grass each day with out destroying the grass. If hens were left in one place the grass will be destroyed...."


Blogger Doctor Mom said...

Chicken raising in Belmont? Who knew! I'm glad that part of our local agricultural history has escaped suburbization! Do you need a permit . . . or pet license?

November 13, 2007 6:48 AM

Anonymous Patrick said...

I've heard most urban areas actually allow chickens, both in the US and other places.

I looked into it for my community garden, but it's not allowed there. I suppose I might have space on my roof, but I think that would be more trouble than it's worth.

November 13, 2007 7:05 AM

Blogger Meg said...

If you have the interest and the space, definitely go for it. Chickens are funny, and they produce loads of eggs and compost. How cool that your town has a chicken owners' club!

November 13, 2007 9:15 AM

Blogger carletongardener said...

In Belmont, a permit is needed to keep chickens and an inspection by the Health Board. It sounds like the maximum is 5 chickens.

I had fun reading about meg's three chickens! She has a cute little red chicken coop and 3 red chickens. Also a bigger yard space than me, it looks like.

November 13, 2007 5:17 PM

Blogger Meg said...

You might want to check out or -- when we were doing our initial chicken research, those sites were quite helpful. Your backyard looks to be absolutely packed with vegetables (and it looks fantastic, btw) but you might be able to squeeze in a coop.

November 13, 2007 7:12 PM

Blogger carletongardener said...

I've already found someone with extra chicks next spring, but I have much more research to do before I could decide. Thanks for the sites.

November 16, 2007 12:50 AM

Blogger Ali said...

Be careful, chickens are very addictive! We started with 6, had 2 losses, got 6 more, had more losses and now have 8, and I love them! We built a small moveable coop, but we have a much larger yard, and the hens have a large area to roam.

Our girls are very social, vastly entertaining, and make great compost! In addition to the sites Meg suggested, I highly recommend Storey's Guide to Chickens and Chickens in Your Backyard.

Have fun!

November 19, 2007 9:50 PM

Blogger vaguelyspecific said...

I have chickens in an inner-city suburb of melbourne, Australia where backyard chickens are very popular. We got 4 bantam perins which are allowed to free range most of the year but are kept in a fenced area during spring and summer when the veggie garden is in full-swing. Bantams are prefect, they lay (amall) eggs every day, don't cause as much destruction as bigger varieties, i.e. we have a lawn but never need to mow it, and are very child friendly. We feed them an organic layer mix from the local feed store and all of the left-overs that don't go in the compost. You can see them on

November 22, 2007 12:28 AM

Blogger Ali H said...

Oh I have such urban chicken-raising fantasies too- I think you should do it if you have space for them, I bet Skippy'd get on with them fine! Eggs, compost & waste disposal plus companionship, seems pretty perfect.

November 25, 2007 4:30 AM

Blogger jengod said...

Read "Keep Chickens" by Barbara Kilarski. It's really funny and very informative as well.

November 27, 2007 12:41 AM

Blogger carletongardener said...

Thanks for the book recommendation. I put that one on my Christmas list.

November 28, 2007 10:40 AM

Anonymous Service Express said...

So thats it? These chickens aren't allowed. Im happy im living in rural part of the country.

December 25, 2009 11:59 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Chickens ARE allowed. For now though, I think my tiny urban yard is too small for them. And I'm afraid I don't have time to take care of them.

December 26, 2009 4:22 PM


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