Here's a cool thing you might not have known about Albuquerque: Unlike many other U.S. cities, Albuquerque zoning laws allow homeowners to keep livestock. Yep, right in the middle of our most urban areas. Subject only to the specific covenants of your neighborhood development or terms of your lease, the law doesn’t care if you keep a few rabbits or pigeons or goats. Hey, why not even a cow or a horse?
Not that we here at the Alibi recommend precisely that, of course. Before you go and revamp your Nob Hill home into the barnyard-odor capital of the neighborhood, it might be wiser to skip the cows and horses (and the inevitable visit from the ASPCA) and stick with critters that are less work intensive and not as likely to anger your neighborhood association—chickens. They're easy to keep, they're entertaining to watch, they help you make excellent quiche and you can bribe any skeptical neighbors with eggs.
But how do you actually go about turning your yard into a pastoral pecking ground for a handful of chooks? Good news! The folks over at the Old School have your back. For the incredibly low price of $7, you can sign up for a one-hour class that will introduce you to all the basics of the urban chicken lifestyle. From coop preparation to proper feed selection and choosing breeds suited to our high desert climate, the class will answer all of your questions. And the best part is you’ll even get to hang out with the teacher’s own flock of chickens.
After that, you’re still not really on your own. The past few years have seen an explosion of urban chicken keeping all across the country (even underground in places where zoning laws are more restrictive than Albuquerque’s), and as a result there are now plenty of resources on the Internet to help you set up and maintain your flock. Backyardchickens.com offers a wealth of information and a very engaged community, as does urbanchickens.org (founded and maintained by an ex-Burqueno). Even the good old Duke City Fix, your hub for all things Albuquerque, has an active group for chicken keepers as well.
So get to it! Chick season is just around the corner and several local feed stores will soon be stocked up with fluffy balls of downy cuteness that you will not be able to resist. Get started once the weather takes a turn for the warmer and you’ll be drowning in eggs by the summer. And once you’ve got the chickens nestled in their fancy new laying boxes and are cooking up home-grown huevos, it’ll be time to show off your hard work for the annual Albuquerque coop tour, scheduled to commence sometime next July.