Local Easter eggs
University of Illinois students raise chickens in backyard.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 16:08
SOMETHING TO CLUCK ABOUT: Five chickens feed hungry college students. (Drawing: Elise Pescheret)
Five sisters all live together in a cozy home in residential Urbana. Delilah, Red Molly, Carmen, Youmee Himher and Fritiki have happily lived in their man-made, wooden home since last August. They all live similar lifestyles — they wake up early, eat a hearty breakfast, roam freely in the fresh spring air and lay eggs.
"It's been so much fun raising chickens," said senior Kendra Dickinson. "There are so many benefits to it."
Dickinson and her three roommates bought the feathered gals off of Craigslist for $7. (Ironically, they bought them from a farmer in Villa Grove who had gotten them from U of I.) Dickinson explained that the red cluckers are a "super breed" — a combination of four different chickens, bred here in CU. The farmer had more than 100 of them and needed to put some up for sale. So, they traveled back down from the suburbs and now live miles from their birthplace.
"Chicken raising is becoming a trend in Urbana," she said. "I thought people would think we were crazy for having chickens in our backyard, but now the people across from us are raising chickens, too."
Each hen lays one egg a day. Sometimes it's more and other times it's less, but Dickinson and her crew have learned that their new pets are more than just egg producers.
"They are excellent fertilizers. We scooped all the poop and made a giant compost pile from it," she said.
In addition to their pet-like qualities, they lay a mean egg.
"They are so delicious, it's unlike anything I've ever had before," she said. "I've developed a new love for quiche."
Luckily, Dickinson lives in Urbana. In Champaign, residents can't keep chickens in their backyards. Some folks have tried persuading the City Counsel, but so far have had no luck.
This summer the five gals plan to continue their residency, avoided predators like raccoons and badgers, and eating, roaming freely and laying eggs.
"They have everything they can ever want," she said. "It's wonderful to know where my chickens come from. They are living in luxury and not being abused so I can have my egg in the morning."