Jul 30, 2010

On Urban Sprawl and Agricultural Settings

As a kid growing up in Detroit, the only time I managed to see cows was during the Michigan State Fair. A person would have to drive quite a distance to true farmland in the urban sprawl that makes up the metropolitan Detroit area, and I am sure the number of functional farms within an hour of Detroit has decreased in the past few decades.

By contrast, I only have to travel a few minutes away from Toledo to find scenes like the dairy farm depicted on your left. This farm is located somewhere between the villages of Ida and Temperance in extreme southeastern Michigan; I am not sure of the exact location, as I was just snapping photographs while my wife drove the vehicle.

There are a dozen or so cows visible in this image, and I suspect that dairy farming is just a small portion of the agricultural activities happening on this property. It appears that the farmer owns several hundred acres of land, and I could see corn and soybeans growing near the highway. The cows roamed around on a patch of land perhaps an acre in size, and while this hardly makes them free range animals, at least they get to stretch their legs and enjoy a little fresh air now and then.

I like to poke around in the dirt and try my hand at what I call urban agriculture, but I am sure that this farmer knows a million more details about plants and farm animals than I ever could learn in my remaining decades. Visiting an agricultural region satisfies my yearning to get closer to the land (no, I am not the sort of person who drives a tricked out Expedition with a thule rack), though the idea of having a few chickens running around my yard does appeal to me.

I am not sure my dogs would likewise enjoy the introduction of domesticated poultry into the yard, though.


Anonymous said...

Would they be eatin' chickens or layin' chickens or just chickens for atmosphere? If you want layin' chickens, you're gonna need, I say, you're gonna need a rooster. And your neighbors, if ya got any that is, are gonna be hotter than gasoline on a bar-b-q when that rooster wakes 'em up on vacation at o'dark thirty.

fred said...

Mike, I've passed your blog info to my daughter who lives in Findlay and has about a dozen egg laying free rangeing chickens. She tells me a rooster is not needed!!!!You might hear from her. She loves her "gitls."

fred said...

oops-should read GIRLS...sorry.

Anonymous said...

Silly silly Mr. Anonymous...
The girls will lay eggs plenty without a Rooster, just as Human females have eggs without Male intervention. They (and we females) only need the male for fertilization.
Free ranging in the City or Country is fine, and produces the BEST eggs for consumption.
Hens are quiet (but poop everywhere- sidewalks & driveways included...)
Fred's daughter:)

Mad Jack said...

You're going to have to decide just how you'll keep Eddie Haskel and his gang of juvenile delinquents away from the chickens. Chickens are great fun to chase, if you're a dog.

Then you have to contend with the rats. Did anyone mention that if you have chickens you automatically get rats? Truth. I recommend a nice rat terrier, one that will let the chickens alone but will raise merry hell with the rats.

Do not let Mistress HistoryMikePhD name the chickens, which she'll want to do. She is, after all, female. Females name things like chickens. The trouble will come up when the chickens stop laying eggs, at which time they fulfill their destiny to become chicken salad, chicken soup, fried chicken... hey, barbecue chicken is nice as well.

Mind you, if you're keeping Eddie and the Hounds of the Baskervilles away from the chickens, you may see one or more vanish from time to time. This is the work of a predator, such as raccoon, muskrat, fox or neighbor. Generally speaking, I would expect Eddie Haskel to sound an early warning, giving the Lord of Brooks Manor time to arm Himself and sally forth to defend home and hearth. But with Eddie Haskel locked up inside... well, maybe the new rat terrier will sound the alert. That brings up another question: How do your neighbors react to gun shots in the middle of the night?

When I was a mere lad, gun fire in the middle of the night resulted in first determining how far away the shots were, because if they were not right next door everyone would just go back to sleep. But right next door, see, that might be different. Initially the old pater would roll out of bed with a curse and find out just what was going on. After it was established that our next door neighbor was merely evicting a raccoon intent on plundering the hen house, further shots would be ignored. The thing is, not everyone sees things this way. Some people are horrified that the neighbor next door would even own a dangerous gun, let alone shoot at anything. They'll likely call the police. Which, in Toledo, will guarantee you a response time of around thirty minutes. That gives you plenty of time to get back to sleep and wake up again when the police bang on the front door of your dark, quiet house to ask leading questions about midnight disturbances and shots fired.

You know, you might want to rethink this chicken business. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

"Silly silly Mr. Anonymous...
The girls will lay eggs plenty without a Rooster, just as Human females have eggs without Male intervention."

What, I say, what fun is the idea of a gaggle of chickens without a rooster? Sorta reminds me a Paul Revere's ride: A little light in the belfry!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Roosters fight if you have more than 1

Dogs will eventually understand the pecking order, and will leave the girls alone- or even assist keeping an eye on them:)

Fred's daughter