When Charlene Jones retired the backyard became a priority. “We’re going to be here forever and wanted a beautiful place to live,” she said. Jones went to work and terra formed the once average 58th Street backyard into The One-eyed Dog Chicken Ranch, an urban micro farm.
The backyard is now a bounty of crops, including figs, a bee garden, a butterfly garden, and numerous vegetable and herb containers. She groomed a Redwood grove to create a natural chapel framed by young red-barked giants and left plenty of grassy room for the grandchildren to play.
Then the City decided to allow back yard chickens. With crop husbandry under control, Jones decided to fulfill a long time dream. “I always wanted chickens. My sister had them and I loved them.” She plunged into research—books, blogs, online information and friends helped her get ready for The Girls.
Della poked around the hen house, “Brrrr ack ack ack.” Her low squawking rose in intensity. “She’s getting ready to lay,” said Jones. We stared at Della expectantly only to have her turn away from the hen house and continue scratching and poking around the gravel path. Della is a chubby Australorp (national chicken of Australia). Harry the Girl is a Barred Rock and Rosie a Rhode Island Red. All steady layers and hearty, friendly breeds.
The chickens came to the farm freshly hatched. “It was winter so we raised them in the house for the first eight weeks,” Jones said. “We used a heat lamp to keep them warm and watched them grow from chicks to pullets.”
Chickens need a coop and Jones went upscale. A custom made condo sits in one corner of the yard. A fence enclosing a chicken yard is under construction. The birdhouse was made by Greg Howes and Brian Fikes whose business Two Flew the Coop took off when the City authorized backyard chickens. Their colorful one of a kind chicken houses are available at Pietro Tallini’s Nursery on Folsom Boulevard.
The One-eyed Dog
Mini blinked at me with her eye. “She was abandoned, had recently whelped and was miserable,” Jones explained. Now she is the farm’s mascot and part of Team Chicken. Mini weighs in at about four pounds, just the right size for the The Girls.
One happy repercussion for The Girls of the One-eyed Dog Chicken Ranch is Jones’ reluctance to eat chicken meat. “I look at them and can’t do it,” she smiled. “They’re not just here for fresh eggs. They’re pets.”