Ed Talks to “The Chicken Lady” ...

Jennifer Murtoff of Home To Roost.The other exhibitor that Ed managed to get an interview with at the Good Food Festival & Conference was Jennifer Murtoff of Home To Roost. Seldom does a tag line from a business card so well encapsulate the nature of a business as hers, with the rather succinct: “Helping city folks raise chickens!”.

Murtoff claims to be “the MidWest’s only chicken consultant”, and offers a menu of services ranging from full set-up of your own chickens, provisioning by the hour, various life-stage consulting, on to emergency 24-hour phone availability. Frankly, I was surprised that there were enough folks in the city keeping chickens (it appears that having fresh eggs is the main appeal) to keep an operation like this busy, but it seems that this is the case.

It does appear that the legality of keeping chickens varies depending on the jurisdiction, but local laws of all sorts (that in previous decades were put in place to urbanize numerous areas) are being reconsidered as part of the Urban Agriculture movement, and there are notices on the site as to when various municipalities are having hearings on the issue.

What sort of background does it take to work with chickens? Here’s a bit of her bio:

Jennifer Murtoff provides compassionate, homespun consulting and emergency care for backyard chickens in the Chicagoland area. A farmer’s granddaughter, Jennifer’s passion for fowl developed as she acquired a number of kinds of birds in south central Pennsylvania. Her flock included chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, peafowl, pigeons, and golden pheasants.

I, frankly, have a hard time imagining the condo board in my building approving chickens (we can’t even have dogs, although parakeets are OK), but it is interesting to imagine some of the urban settings that might. There certainly must be some as there are several listings of “found” chickens in her site’s “community pages” which have shown up in various parts of the city, even in the Loop!

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