These days, people live too “far from earth and nature.” It is all about living in a city. Remember, when did you look at the sky for the last time? When did you listen to the bird’s singing? And when did you eat a fresh apple stripped just from the apple-tree? It was a long time ago. I am sure of it. A majority of people seek for “healthy food”, eating fresh vegetables and meat, drinking natural juice and low-fat products, thinking that they become closer to nature.
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We buy all the stuff in the supermarket, and we do not think about how those products got there. In his book, Michael Pollan says, “the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world” (10). He is right, indeed. All species are interconnected: when we eat natural products, we get health from nature. What products can be “more natural” than those we grow by ourselves?. Pollan also mentions that industrial eating prevents these “relations and connections” (10).
Thus, if we seek for the tastiest and freshest food ever, we should not only “take,” but “give” to nature as well. Urban farming is a good solution that can help people restore this connection. For example, having chickens on your farm, you will take care of them, feeding them and protecting from other animals, for example, building a raccoon proof chicken coop. As a result, you will have fresh meat and restore your connection with nature.
The idea of being closer to nature was adopted, interpreted, and applied in practice by Novella Carpenter, who disclosed her experience as a farmer in the book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. In her book, she explained how she came to the idea of having her own garden and kept animals there. With humor, Ms. Carpenter described how she managed to turn “a 4,500-foot square lot filled with four-foot-tall weeds” into a place where “scarlet runner beans wound through the chain-link fence and were heavy with furry green beans Apples were ripening on the tree.” (24).
The author also writes about her relationships with neighbors and gives valuable advice on how to start growing your own food and plant a garden. Apart from the funny stories about her animals, she mentions her experience of killing those animals to prepare food (the story of how she killed her first turkey Harold) and all emotions related to it, and how she could not sleep the night before it. That what she wrote about that experience:
“Pantheism had mostly eluded me. But to hold Harold, this amazing living creature, and to know that his life force would be transferred to me in the form of food, felt sacred” (76).
It goes without saying that taking care of an animal and then kill this animal is difficult and may seem to be cruel; however, killing for pleasure, isn’t it crueler? Following the “law of nature,” as a part of nature, we are permitted to kill animals to eat them and support our living. At the same time, we should protect our animals; in other words, “safeguard our food.” All of us are the parts of a natural food chain: animals feed as, and when we die, we are buried and feed grass, which then serves as food for animals. We should take care of animals: give them shelter, food, and protection. It is a circle of life, indeed. We are responsible for them.
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Novella describes the way they killed a raccoon that wanted to kill her chickens. She was furious because he wanted to destroy what she created with so many efforts. One more important idea of the book is sharing our bounties. We live in society, and we are to take care not only of ourselves and our animals but of the people around us. Novella Carpenter had her city farm in the ghetto, and there were many people who had not enough food to eat. She opened the doors of her garden to those people, and they could take anything they wanted. The same thing is about other her neighbors. It is a sort of mutual profit and support.
Adopting the idea of Novella Carpenter about farming, taking care of animals, and sharing our bounty, I would like to share my experience of farming and building a Raccoon Proof Chicken Coop. My view on animal treating and farming was also shaped by the article by Michael Pollan, “An Animal’s Place.” I do support the idea that animals have rights, and we should respect them. Pollan says that “law professors and activists are convinced that the great moral struggle of our time will be for the rights of animals” (“An Animal’s Place”). But “humans differ from animals in morally significant ways” (“Animals’ Place”).
Being an urban farmer, you should be ready to work hard and put all your forces into what you are doing. It is an absolutely different lifestyle. Moreover, you become responsible not only for your family or a pet; you become responsible for all living beings that live in your yard. Chickens are one of those beings; it would be a great pity if some raccoon gets into the coop and kill your chickens. So, to provide your chickens with comfort, do some previous planning, buy a book, and involve your friends. (See, your birds made you closer to your friend.) Making a plan for the chicken coop, make sure that when you build it, nothing will be able to get insight. You need strong doors, good windows, and a cine floor.
Some people make a concrete floor to ensure that no predator can slide into the chicken coop. In addition, do you have a schedule? Sure, you do. Your chickens as well, and you should know it to lock them once they are “ready to go to bad.” It goes without saying that you will want to do the best of your for your birds. So, these are the steps of making a Raccoon Proof Chicken Coop:
- Make a frame of the “hen house.”
- Build a “frame” where chickens will sit on.
- Make the siding (wall), which will not be accessible.
- Add the floor and a two-piece floor. Cove the “house” with a roof (better use a metal sheet).
- Build a ramp so that birds could go into the house.
- Put there a feedbox and a vessel for water. Put a lamp to preserve the warmth.
And the reason is that you do not want just to save your chickens to “serve a table with tasty fried chicken.” But because you really worry about them. This is a sort of social, moral, and even cultural connection to food (no matter how you love your chickens, they still will serve food for you, and it is inevitable. This is why nature created them, and this is what you should actually do). One more important thing, we live in a social community, and we should support each other while sharing our bounty.
Jane Farmer wrote in her book that Carpenter confesses, “she built a square garden and saw people taking things, and she loved that People got caught up in the idea that they had to be a part of something” (184). This is one of the biggest benefits of urban farming; you get closer to nature and to people helping them and sharing your bounties with them.
Every person wants to eat healthy food and be closer to nature. However, by buying food in the market, we interrupt a natural circle. Urban farming is what can help to solve such a problem. You take care of animals, and they serve you as food. It is a law of nature, and this is why it is important to safeguard our food. Everything in nature is related. Thus, you can notice that there is a sort of social connection to your food. Moreover, by sharing our bounty, we can support ourselves and the community we live in.
Carpenter, Novella, Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. New York: The Penguin Press, 2010.
Farmer, Jane. Women Changing the Way We Eat. Lawton: Gibbs Smith, 2010.
Pollan, Michael. “An Animal’s Place.” The New York Times Magazine, 2002.
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: The Penguin Press, 2006.