The cookie tray – recipes to tantalize your tastebuds

As I sit here typing with a belly full of turkey, trimmings and pie, I have to admit that the idea of baking cookies is the farthest thing from my mind. Yet I know when I wake up tomorrow my desire to bake (and eat) will be renewed again and as the holiday music fills the air over the next few weeks, I’ll be happy to have this list of tasty recipes to look back on. Because even though I can’t imagine taking one more bite of food at the moment, these recipes look really darn good.

Chocolate chip cookiesI put together some of the best recipes I could find and broke them down into categories. I think there is likely something here to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, but if you don’t find something you like, please feel free to link to your favorite cookie recipe in the comments. After all, whenever cookies are concerned, the more, the merrier.

If you are like me and have a bunch of pureed pumpkin to use up, you welcome any recipe that involves pumpkin. Did I mention my neighbor dropped off a container full of 13 cups of pumpkin this week? Oh yes, she did. Ordinarily I would welcome such a gift, but when my freezer was already full of pumpkin puree, it forced me to get a little creative. That is why we had chocolate pumpkin cake for my son’s birthday earlier in the week, as well as two kinds of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this evening (and probably pumpkin soup later this week). Luckily for me there is no shortage of good pumpkin cookie recipes out there.

Pumpkin Cookies

  • Mommy Wizdom claims she has a recipe for The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever and told me that anywhere she takes her cookies, people ask her for this recipe.
  • At Green Hour, there’s another recipe for kid-friendly Pumpkin Cookies (scroll down to the third recipe), where the kiddos can help “press raisin eyes, a nose, and a smile on each warm cookie.”
  • Julie at Persnickety Palate posted one of her childhood favorites, Mom’s Pumpkin Cookies. This variation includes almonds and chocolate chips.
  • Last in the pumpkin category is the recipe for the easiest cookies I’ve ever made. Seriously. This recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cookies (AKA The easiest cookies I’ve ever made) literally has only two ingredients (though more can be added, but that’s totally optional).

Speaking of simple cookie recipes, here are a couple more that even the most inexperienced baker can handle.

Simple Cookie Recipes

  • Jenn from The Green Parent told me this recipe on Twitter. It’s so short and easy, she gave me the whole recipe in 140 characters or less, and I quote, “3cups pb, 3 cup sugar, and 3 eggs…mix and bake then press a Hershey’s kiss in the top. Yum Yum and soo easy!” And hello, chocolate and peanut butter (which is what the “pb” stands for above) together? In my book that’s a combination that can never go wrong.
  • Brandy from Savin Some posted a Cake Mix Cookie recipe that uses white cake mix and just two other ingredients.
  • And at Cindy’s Desktop, Cindy confesses, “I cannot cook hard recipes!” Her solution is to only cook easy recipes and she offers up a variety of Cake Mix Cookie recipes.

Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite in my house. I always say that you can add chocolate chips to nearly any recipe and it will only make it better.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • When I first read about Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies on Twitter, I was a little taken aback. Sure, bacon is good and chocolate is good, but combining them? Hmmm. According to Michelle Baker, AKA the Urban Eater, “The salty, crisp bacon is MAGIC with the sweet chocolately cookie. Perfection. I recommend NOT eating these straight from the oven as you will not stop.” I’m not sure if I will try these out myself, but I’d love to know if anyone else does.
  • If you are looking for a little more traditional chocolate chip cookie, you might like these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Teresa Long of Intent Blog.
  • These Black and white chocolate chip cookies that come from Jessie at the blog The Hungry Mouse use Oreos as one of the ingredients look pretty darn tasty.
  • Flour Girl, ironically enough, posted this recipe for Flour-less peanut butter banana chocolate chip cookies. Again, peanut butter and chocolate. Yum!

Of course, ’tis the season and a post about cookie recipes wouldn’t be complete without some holiday recipes.

Holiday Cookies

I should probably apologize to all of the vegans out there for that bacon chocolate chip cookie recipe above (sorry), but if it’s any consolation I found a handful of vegan recipes to help make it up to you.

Vegan Cookies

Since I included so many recipes that include chocolate (how did that happen?), I want to throw in this non-chocolate recipe for good measure: Lemon cookies from Mennonite Girls Can Cook. (Honestly, I had to include it just because it looks really good.)

And lastly, because we should not forget our canine friends, here are some cookie recipes for the dogs.

Dog Cookies

  • Lisa from Condo Blues had to get creative when she recently found herself out of dog treats before an agility class. Because her dog has allergies to wheat and corn, it is hard to find dog treats in the grocery store anyway, so she developed her own Allergy-free apple and banana dog cookies.
  • Ali at Home of the Lazy Dog has a recipe for Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits. She says she’s made a lot of different kinds of dog treats over the years, but these are her favorite. They’re “easy, healthy, natural, crunchy and taste great.”

Have a favorite cookie recipe you’d like to share? Please leave a comment with a link or the whole recipe, I’m not picky. Happy baking.

*When buying chocolate chips (or chocolate of any kind), I recommend buying organic and fair-trade whenever possible. If it’s just not in your budget (it’s unfortunately, not usually in mine), then I suggest avoiding Nestlé products and buying a store brand (generally cheaper) or another brand. Why? You can read about the Nestlé boycott here. This is a boycott that I continue to stand behind.

Cross-posted on BlogHer

What will you do on Buy Nothing Day?

Traditionally in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” and is considered the kickoff for the Christmas holiday season. Retailers open their doors early and hold big sales in hopes of drawing in the consumers for one big day of spending and consumption! Shop, shop, shop ’til ya drop!

Buy Nothing DayYou might not be aware that there’s another name for that day – “Buy Nothing Day.” The goal of Buy Nothing Day, celebrated this year in the US on Nov. 28 and internationally on Nov. 29, is to raise awareness about unnecessary spending and consumption, not just for one day, but for every day.

Now in its 17th year, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated every November by environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in over 65 countries around the world. Over the years, Buy Nothing Day (followed by Buy Nothing Christmas) has exploded into a global movement, inspiring the world’s citizens to live more simply and buy a whole lot less.

With the current economic crisis, fear of global warming, and failing environment, this year’s Buy Nothing Day has a greater sense of urgency.

Suddenly, we ran out of money and, to avoid collapse, we quickly pumped liquidity back into the system. But behind our financial crisis a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of nature… fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources run low?

There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.

It will take a massive mindshift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 28th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Year’s resolution to change your lifestyle in 2009.

It’s now or never!

What do you think? Will you choose to Buy Nothing on Nov. 28 (or Nov. 29) this year? Or if you think that is too extreme, will you curb your overall spending and consumption for the holidays? One thing that might help you with this is to take the No Plastic Holiday Challenge. We’ve got 33 participants so far. Can we make it 50?

Whether or not people participate in Buy Nothing Day or the No Plastic Holiday Challenge, it is my hope that this year finds all people a little more aware, a little more conscientious, and a little more thoughtful before they buy.

Happy 2nd birthday, baby

Me and Julian on his birth day 11/23/06 Me and Julian on his 2nd birthday 11/23/08

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since you tip-toed (quite literally since you were born feet first) into our lives. Having you as a part of our family is such a blessing, Julian. I love your kisses, “group hugs,” nose boops, and giggles so much.

It’s been incredible to watch your language explode over the past few months. It seems there’s nothing you can’t say these days, but my favorite words are, “I love you, Mommy,” followed closely by “cock-a-loo” (your name for chickens).

You show no fear and love to climb and swing on our tire swing. Sand and bugs are your friends.

You also love your sister Ava so much and enjoy being her shadow. I never tire of watching the two of you play together. Don’t get me wrong, you definitely have your squabbles, but the times when you lose yourselves in your imaginations together are the moments I want to make time stand still.

You are definitely exerting more of your independence over the past few months and some things we hear often from you these days are “uh-uh” and “don’t do dat.”

You still nurse on a semi-regular basis – before nap and bed and a few times throughout the day. I’m happy that you find both comfort and nourishment at the breast.

I love to watch you gallop across the room, whether you are riding a hobby horse or not. And nothing beats how cute you look when you run.

I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for you. I know you have many grand adventures ahead as you continue to explore your world. Try not to grow too quickly, my love. I want you to grow up to be happy and healthy, but I want you to take your time for both our sakes. Please remember you will always be my baby boy.

I love you,
Mama

Moving on to the chicken crusade

hens.jpgNow that the election is over and Obama has been elected our next president, and Motrin has taken down their offensive ad, I need a new cause to occupy my time. 😉 My latest crusade is to get an ordinance passed in my city to allow backyard hens (no roosters). I wrote about this a bit before, but last night I decided to start a new blog devoted entirely to getting the ordinance passed. (UPDATE: I previously said I wasn’t ready to release the URL yet, but my partner in crime and I are ready now. It’s Urban Hens.) I have a lot of work to do in the weeks ahead. Our city council should be voting on the ordinance in December.

If you’ve recently had an ordinance passed in your town that allowed backyard hens and you have any suggestions or resources to share, I would be most appreciative. Feel free to email me or leave a comment. Thanks. 🙂

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get clucking. I’ve got a craft show to check out, a house to clean, and a certain little boy’s 2nd birthday to prepare for.

A return to normalcy

After a couple of wild days around here (blog traffic* that was through the roof and a newspaper interview), the Motrinmoms buzz is dying down and things are returning to normal – uh, whatever that means. I guess for me it means today I’m baking seeds from a butternut squash and two pie pumpkins and I’ve got an organic chicken in the crockpot for dinner. I need to make some pear-apple sauce too from several pears I have that are more than ripe at this point. I’ve been slacking off on my cooking lately. Ava is having her preschool Thanksgiving potluck lunch today at school and we took mashed potatoes (made with locally-grown potatoes). Julian is turning 2 on Sunday and I can hardly believe it. He’s already exerting his independence and seems to be as stubborn strong-willed as his big sister and mama. Oh, and my mom arrived into town and will be staying out here in Colorado for an extended visit. Jody and I are hoping to get some date nights (if we can remember how those work) since we’ll have a willing and able babysitter.

If you’d like to read the newspaper article it is here: Local blogger stops national ad – on the front page of today’s paper. And here’s the photo that accompanied it.

111808blogger-a.jpg

The caption: Local “mommy blogger” Amy Gates played a major role in an online protest of a Motrin ad that many moms found demeaning. The Motrin ad suggested some moms “wear their babies” as a fashion accessory and that it leaves moms sore, but it’s a “good kind of pain” because it’s for the baby. Gates posted a twitter feed about the ad Saturday that erupted into an online firestorm. Joshua Buck/Times-Call

* My blog racked in nearly 6,000 visits on Monday – that’s about 12 times the amount of traffic I usually get.

Motrinmoms: Tying up the loose ends

Whether you thought the Motrin ad was off the mark or not, I think it’s safe to say that what happened on Twitter on Nov. 15 and 16 was unprecedented. A group of moms who were collectively offended by a condescending, patronizing and poorly thought out ad that made false statements about babywearing banded together in a very short amount of time resulting in Motrin pulling their ad and issuing an apology.

Contrary to what some may believe, it’s not just been the mommy bloggers who are writing about this (though many are). It’s numerous tech, marketing, advertising and social media bloggers too. Some of these posts include: Social Media Storm Spreads as Motrin Ad Angers Moms by BL Ochman, Motrin: A Case Study in Social Media Marketing by Toby Bloomberg, Moms Give Motrin a Headache by David Armano, The #motrinmoms Lesson by Susan Getgood Motrin learns: Hell hath no fury like baby-wearing moms by Media Caffeine, The Real Problem with the Motrin Ads by Peter Shankman, and How Twittering Critics Brought Down Motrin Mom Campaign by Advertising Age, just to name a few. I can’t tell you the number of times my blog has been linked to in the past 24 hours because I’ve lost count, but I can tell you my hits are through the roof.

I’ve seen a lot of reactions to this both here on my blog and elsewhere around the ‘net. Some people are calling for Motrin employees to be fired and I have to say I think that is a bit extreme. We’ve all been in jobs where we’ve made mistakes (um, especially in the job of being Mom) and, hopefully for our sake, we weren’t fired as a result. With the economy the way it is, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Others are saying that the moms overreacted or that moms should be using their power for greater causes and that we wasted their time on this one. First of all I believe that we all have different causes that speak to us. If everyone supported the same thing, what a boring world this would be. Secondly, who’s to say what other causes we are active in supporting? Who’s to say we can only devote our energy to one cause at a time? I know many of the moms on Twitter are activists and involved in causes that speak to them, just as I am. Why should we have to justify why something speaks to us and why we feel motivated to act on it? If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

I think the fact that moms were able to band together as quickly as they did demonstrates (once again) that women, and moms in particular, are a force to be reckoned with. And ya know what? We all have to start somewhere. Who’s to say that a mom who was a part of the Motrin thing won’t feel empowered to take on something bigger next time? My first foray into activism a few years ago involved emailing Target about a shirt that had a message I didn’t agree with. Target pulled the shirts from its racks. Similarly to what’s going on now, there were many nay-sayers, but I learned a few valuable lessons: that there is power in numbers and that it’s important to stand up for the things you believe in, no matter how small they may seem. I’ve gone on to become an activist for other things. Most recently, it was volunteering for the Obama campaign and making phone calls to voters in my battleground state of Colorado and I wasn’t the only mom involved. Does that count as a “greater cause?” Who knows what we’ll tackle next. 😉

Personally, I was pleased to see that Motrin issued an apology and pulled the ad. I don’t believe the ad ever should have been made public though. I hope that Motrin/Johnson & Johnson and other companies that want to market to moms have learned that being involved in social media is important, if not crucial, and perhaps they will run future ads by a group of moms from diverse backgrounds to give it a test run. I feel fairly confident that if they had shown the babywearing ad to a handful of moms (both babywearers and non-babywearers), there would have been some negative reactions and it would have caused them to rethink it.

ibw_xlarge.jpgMoving right along…

Did I mention that this is International Babywearing Week? Oh, Yes. It Is. (Not good timing for Motrin, eh?)

Babywearing International has issued a response to Motrin. Part of the response asked McNeil Consumer Healthcare to help right the wrongs.

Babywearing International, Inc., calls upon McNeil Consumer Healthcare to counter the effects of this offensive ad campaign in the following ways:

– Completely discontinue the campaign by not allowing any further publication of it in any media;

– Undertake an equally prominent campaign that portrays babywearing mothers as the savvy parents and consumers they actually are;

– Undertake an equally prominent campaign that explains the proven benefits of babywearing and directly counters the portrayal of babywearing as painful or as a practice that makes babywearing mothers cry;

– Undertake a campaign to educate healthcare providers as well as patients about the research-proven benefits of babywearing. In fact, babywearing makes mothers more confident and results in fewer tears for both mothers and children.

Recognizing that Motrin is a brand that has heretofore been mother-friendly as well as child-friendly, Babywearing International would consider assisting Motrin in partially repairing the recent damage to its image by having Motrin’s collaboration in our Medical Outreach Campaign, through which we provide research-based information to medical doctors, counselors, and parents concerning the health benefits of babywearing.

I’d love to see Motrin respond to Babywearing International and take them up on their offer for assistance.

Lastly, here are two good examples of what Motrin could have chosen to do with the ad, which would have saved them time, money and yes, many, many headaches.

And to think all of this began with one little tweet: “hey babywearers, have you seen Motrin’s new ad campaign bashing babywearing??!” Who could have predicted the outcome? Not me.
picture-27.png

My Related Posts:

* Motin’s new ad attacks babywearing, insults moms
* We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?
* Motrin’s response to the onslaught of complaints

Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over babywearing ad

I just received an email from Kathy Widmer, Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare, responding to the feedback I left on Motrin’s website last night. Here it is:

Dear Amy –

I am the Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare. I have responsibility for the Motrin Brand, and am responding to concerns about recent advertising on our website. I am, myself, a mom of 3 daughters.

We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newstands and in distribution.

-Kathy

Kathy Widmer
VP of Marketing – Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
McNeil Consumer Healthcare
215-273-8192
kwidmer@mccus.jnj.com

What do you think about this response? I’d love to hear from you.

If you have no idea what this is about, please read my previous posts on the subject:
* Motin’s new ad attacks babywearing, insults moms
* We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?

Also, check out the New York Times article: Moms and Motrin

Update 11/17/08: As of just a bit ago, Motrin posted an apology (see below) on their web site, which is now back up after it was entirely taken down for the night.

“With regard to the recent Motrin advertisement, we have heard you.

On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.

We have heard your complaints about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and take feedback from moms very seriously.

We are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.

Thank you for your feedback. Its very important to us.”

Sincerely,
Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

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We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?

The blogosphere and Twitterverse are all a buzz with Motrin’s condescending ad regarding babywearing moms. If you missed the hullabaloo, you can read my post from yesterday about it.

Women control the household spendingMoms might be wondering, apart from spreading the word about this (which we’ve already done an awesome job of) and contacting Motrin, what else can we do?

According to 2005 Wow! Quick Facts Book —United States Census Bureau: As women, we control 80% of our household spending and even more relevant in this case, women buy 75 percent of all over-the-counter medications.

Here’s my suggestion, you can start by boycotting Motrin, but before you reach for a bottle of Tylenol instead, read on. Johnson & Johnson owns both Motrin AND Tylenol, so if you truly want to boycott them, you need to avoid both. My suggestion is to buy GENERIC. I use generic Ibuprofen for my migraines and it works just as well as a name brand…and it’s cheaper! Saving a few dollars here and there is something everyone can appreciate in the current economy. If you buy generic, READ THE LABEL. It’s possible that a generic drug could be made by the same company that makes the name brand, but the only way to verify that is to read the fine print. I just checked my bottle of “Wal-Profen” and it says right on there, “This product is not manufactured or distributed by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, owner of the registered trademark Advil Tablets. Distributed by Walgreen Co.”

Another alternative is buying Advil (which is also Ibuprofen), although then you won’t likely save any money. I just did a quick check of Advil’s site and although they definitely target moms in their advertising, they say Advil can be used for “Backache from carrying the baby,” which is arguably different than backache from wearing the baby, which Motrin espouses.

Motrin didn’t do their research before they ran this ad, but we will do ours and we will vote with our dollars.

Edited to add: I received a few comments from women who suggested contacting your local and national media outlets as well. I think that’s good advice and I encourage you to do that. Let’s spread the word further and hopefully affect some change in the way companies market to moms.

Update – Motrin responds and removes online ad: Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over the babywearing ad. In light of Motrin’s quick response and ad removal, I’m no longer advocating for an all-out boycott. If individuals choose to do so, fine, (and I’ll keep buying generic meds) but I’m not trying to organize a boycott at this time.

Motrin’s new ad attacks babywearing, insults moms

Have you seen the new online Motrin ad? You know, the one where they attack babywearing and insult moms in an effort to sell their drugs? Watch it here (at least until they take it down) or it’s also on YouTube.

Motrin, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?? Oh yeah, you weren’t.

Thanks to Barb for typing out the video verbatim:

In case they pull the ad from their front page by the time you’re reading this (I sure hope they trash the entire campaign, and fast), I’m quoting the little video on their website front page, which they call a “Mom-versation“. The phrases in bold are my emphasis, though they have even better emphasis in the graphics in their ad.

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion.

I mean, in theory it’s a great idea.

There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch.

And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.

Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.

They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others.

But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t?

I sure do!

These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?!

I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.

Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.

And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

Here’s the response I just emailed them:

Motrin’s new ad campaign targeting babywearing is offensive, disrespectful and wrong on so many levels. If a mom is experiencing significant pain from wearing her baby, then she needs to adjust her carrier/sling or try another one. Babywearing has so many proven benefits to both mom and baby and women have been wearing babies since the beginning of time. Stop disrespecting us moms, Motrin. Unlike our babies, we weren’t born yesterday and we will take our $ elsewhere.

Me with Julian (2 wks old) in the MobyPersonally, I LOVED wearing my kids. My favorite carrier was the Ergo, though I also really liked the Moby Wrap. I loved having them close and safe, especially out in crowds and when I wanted to be able to get around easily without lugging a stroller. Oh yeah and there was the time I was able to nurse my son hands-free while he was in the Moby and we were out for a walk in the middle of winter without taking him out into the cold. That was pretty cool. 🙂

Does the Motrin ad bother you? Let Motrin know what you think. Contact Motrin and then feel free to boycott them (Johnson & Johnson owns both Motrin and Tylenol). I happen to go through a lot of Ibuprofen because I get migraines on a regular basis, but I use generic Ibuprofen and it works just fine and is cheaper too!

Edited to add:
If you weren’t on Twitter Saturday night, you missed the onslaught of comments about the Motrin ad, but Katja Presnal at Ladybug Landings summed it up nicely in the video she made including many of the Tweets in response to Motrin: Motrin Makes Moms Mad. There are even a few pics of me wearing Julian in there, and one of Ava wearing her baby doll. 🙂 (Ava was soo happy to be included in the video. Thanks, Katja!)

Also, please check out my follow-up post: We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?
And lastly, Motrin responds and removes online ad: Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over the babywearing ad

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The chicken, the egg, and the children

Wednesday night I went to a meeting about a proposed city ordinance to allow backyard hens in residential areas. Although my city was formerly a farming community, hens and other livestock are currently only allowed in areas zoned for agriculture. I’m interested in having backyard hens myself as a way to live more sustainably and because I feel it would be great for my kids. A teacher who attended the meeting, while pleading her case in favor of the hens, said she’s had students that didn’t know a hamburger came from cows. That got me wondering, how many of today’s children really have no idea where their food comes from?

Penny, a New Zealand mother of two who blogs at Walking Upside Down, reinforced the point when she mentioned her son’s kindergarten teacher told her she once took a class to farm growing cabbages and the kids asked, “Who put them there?” Penny said, “I was so surprised there were kids in my area who didn’t know where veges came from!”

Belinda Moore, who writes Home Grown says, “Children need to know their food, be connected to it. Even if you’ve never grown anything before, learn beside your little ones. Sharing this knowledge now could foster a lifelong interest in gardening, a forgotten skill that some day could become vitally important once again.”

I feel fortunate that we live in an area where we have access to local farms so that my children can see how different fruits and vegetables grow and that they don’t just appear in the grocery store. We also planted a garden for the first time this year and they were able to experience something growing from just a seed into a vegetable we could eat for dinner. Those kinds of experiences, I believe, are important to give our children.

Another thing I appreciate is having access to local free-range eggs. I recently discovered a family farm a few miles from my home, Ollin Farms, that sells fresh, free-range organic eggs every Wednesday morning. The problem is, as I’ve come to discover on more than one occasion, you have to be waiting at the farm stand when they open at 10 a.m. in order to make sure you get your eggs. They only have a limited supply and they sell out fast. Just this week I went to pick up a dozen for both me and my friend Alison. Julian and I arrived at 10:15 a.m. and the eggs were already sold out. According to the farmer they only had 7 dozen this week because their older hens are slowing down production for the winter and their younger chicks still have another month or so to mature before they start laying eggs. Seven dozen in one week is just not enough to keep up with demand.

That is just one of the reasons that I would like to be able to own a few hens of my own. Not only would I like the organic, free-range eggs (which are far healthier than factory-farmed eggs), I would like to expose my children to the experience of caring for animals and to get better acquainted with their food. My daughter Ava, 4 years old, has already told me with pride on numerous occasions that she will be the one who collects the eggs every day.

Owning your own chickens is also better for the environment. According to Meg Hamill who writes for Planet Save, “Making backyard chickens legal is a good move for cities interested in reducing their ecological footprint. Urban chickens provide a local source of eggs, meat and manure.”

Ever since the proposed backyard hen ordinance came about several months ago, it has received a lot of attention here and quickly became a very contentious subject. There are several people in favor of the ordinance, most of them interested in knowing where there food comes from (these are also the folks who grow their own tomatoes and other veggies), and in living more sustainably. There are also a good number of people who are opposed to it, citing concerns like smell, noise, unhealthy for children to be around, increased predators, decreased property values, etc.

It was the mention of chickens being unhealthy for children to be around that piqued my interest. Although a physician who was present at the meeting dispelled those concerns, I decided since I know quite a few people, both in person and on the ‘net, who raise chickens and have children, it was worth it to ask them about their personal experiences too.

My sister-in-law Jennifer who lives in Kansas with her husband and 8 children, as well as numerous chickens, a cow, some pigs and goats told me, “Some people think that the feather mites that chickens have are a problem, but they are not transferable to humans. Any pet that is not cared for well or cleaned up after obviously poses a health risk of some kind, be that cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.”

I think that is the real concern in our city. People are understandably concerned about the few folks who won’t be responsible chicken owners and either won’t care for their hens properly and/or won’t clean up after them. While I’m sure there will be a few bad apples, I say why not cross that bridge if and when we come to it? Let’s trust in our neighbors that they will do the right thing rather than assume the worst right off the bat. I believe most of the people who want to get backyard hens want to do it for the same reasons that I do and will likely be responsible hen-owners.

When properly cared for and cleaned up after, chickens should not pose health risks, and from what I heard from several people I asked, kids can’t get enough of them.

Sarah with a chickenMy sister-in-law Jennifer said:

Our kids love their chickens. I don’t know that chickens should be a petted-type pet, but ours certainly are. My children love carrying them around. They have put chickens in a swing Andrew holds a chickenbefore (not sure the chicken liked that so much, but she didn’t throw a fit either). We get so much enjoyment from watching them. They go nuts for watermelon rind and tomato scraps and everyone in the house loves to check for eggs. They have found new and creative places to lay their eggs and thus we often have to hunt for them. It’s Easter every day at our house!

Angela from Rahn Family Blog told me her daughter Shraddha spends hours with their chickens. She’s got some adorable pictures of her daughter with her “babies.” “I never realized how much fun we would have with chickens. We are always so excited to run out and feed them leftovers and they jump all over us in excitement whenever we come to visit…especially when leftover oatmeal is with us.”

Amber from Berlin’s Whimsy writes the Chicken Chronicles about her little flock. In her post Chicken Therapy she relates how she and her two kids have been too busy to spend time observing their chickens lately and they all miss it.

We miss our chickens. We see them fairly often but it isn’t the same as walking out to the chicken house in the morning and watching them flee from their confinement—-a spectacle of legs, wings, and squawks, leaving feathers floating in the air. I especially long for sitting outdoors with a bit of knitting while absent-mindedly watching our chickens interact with one another, listening to their chicken conversations. As much as it is amusing, it’s just about the best prescription for stress relief—-another lesson in simplicity. I know it sounds odd, but until you’ve tried it, you just won’t understand.

Monica Brand, a home schooling mom to two girls and two boys, shares a picture of three of her kids, the Chicken Wranglers.

Leslie, from Recycle Your Day says her little boy loves having chickens.

Tristan loves to go every morning and feed them and check for eggs. He always crouches down and points to one and says “egg”! It’s really cute. When my niece and nephew come over they love to watch them and my niece will go and retrieve eggs if she see’s one or two! She always asks about them. Kids really find them to be fascinating. I’m happy that Tristan has the opportunity to grow up with chickens and horses. He loves em’ both.

Dawn from Kaiser Alex told me on Twitter that she has fond memories of hatching chicks in an incubator back when she was a kid in elementary school. I asked her how she liked it and Dawn responded, “Well it was 25 years ago and I still remember, so I guess pretty well.”

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this ordinance will pass so that we can take the next step in living more sustainably and so my children can have these special kinds of experiences and memories too.

Additional resources:
The City Chicken
Backyard Chickens
Chicken Raising with Toddlers
How to Keep Chickens in the City
Nine Books for Newbies to Urban Chickens
Raising Chickens on an Urban Homestead
Raising Urban Chickens: Part 2 – Building a Coop
Raising Urban Chickens: Part 2A – Building a Coop

Cross-posted on BlogHer. Feel free to check out the discussion over there too. 🙂