A Hipster's Guide to Farm Animals | Chow Bella | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona

A Hipster's Guide to Farm Animals

So you're planning on jumping the hipster bandwagon and getting a farm animal. No judgment here -- chickens yield free eggs, goats give free milk, and micro pigs are, well, a mess, but if Clooney can fall for the real deal, so can we. But before you start building a...
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So you're planning on jumping the hipster bandwagon and getting a farm animal. No judgment here -- chickens yield free eggs, goats give free milk, and micro pigs are, well, a mess, but if Clooney can fall for the real deal, so can we.

But before you start building a coop, knitting a collar, or prepping the first round of slop, there are a few things you should know. We consulted a few local experts and farm animal owners. Not all were hipsters. In fact, most weren't. But there was no denying the rising popularity of these backyard pals.

Word to your hipster. Here are a few tips from the originals:

5 Things a Hipster Should Know Before Owning a Chicken
C.M. Redding is a New Times contributor who's had his fair share of farm animal adventures (though mainly in the kitchen with his cooking/dating column, Forking). Last year, he built a pig-roasting pit, and this year he decided he'd one-up himself and attempt a coop. Here's what he learned (in his own words, of course):

5. Commitment Commitment is hard enough for normal Joes. But for the hipster, commitment goes on as easy as some hat that went out of style in the '30s. What I'm getting at is that buying chickens should never be a spur-of-the-moment decision. Do your research and understand those bitches (no cocks allowed in city of Phoenix). Your chickens could live for more than a decade! You aren't just raising an animal for eggs -- you're raising a pet. Hell, just take a quick look inside any hipster coffee hovel and by the sheer number of tattoos in the joint, you'll understand what I mean about hipsters being okay with committing to something (albeit trite).

4. Cash Money Most every good feed store has chicks for sale this time of year. Sure, the little girlies are only $2 to $3 each, but then you need all the gear. Let me explain in hipster terms: If you start drinking $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon, you start out thinking it's cheap. But after your initial investment, you will soon start buying more toilet paper, then a padded toilet seat, then aspirin, then moist wipes, then tums, then Zantec , then Prilosec, etc. Before you know it, you're out a lot of bread.

If you're walking into any feed store to buy chicks, be prepared to spend at least $60.

You will need the following: One water feeder One feeder A red bulb A 250-watt lamp Bedding The bitches Food Chicken wire

Bottom line: bring your credit card

3. Cool Chicks If you've never owned a chicken, then prepare yourself to be stunned by how cool they are. I imagine it's like dating a funky hipster chick -- no matter how hard you try, you won't be as cool as that sexy-ass chick.

Each breed has different attributes, and you should figure out what you want before you buy, So do your research. Research for a hipster should be easy, because if there's anything I know about hipsters it's that they love to find out as much obscure shit, on just about anything, as they can.

For example, Rhode Island Reds are prolific layers and are hot redheads. Black Australorps are great layers too, and they have a funky iridescent green shimmer to them. Ameraucanas lay the funky green looking Easter eggs. The differences go on and on. Some breeds have hair-like feathers, some have fancy feathers that look like boots, and some even have purple skin. Heck, the babes come in every shape and size, and they're all cool. In no time, you will be opting to sit in your backyard hanging with your girls -- instead of muscling that stupid fixed-gear bike up to the bar for some shitty band and a bunch of bitches strutting around in their spring garb that was hip in 1945.

2. The Coop Coop, Crib, Castle -- by any other name, you need to build these babes a home. After building my own 8-foot-by-10-foot beauty, and dropping nearly $750 bucks, I realized I could have gone some different routes.

In hipster speak, why spend all the dough on a "homebrew" kit if all you're really trying to brew is PBR? If you don't let your ego get in the way, you can actually buy a pre-made coup for $250 or less, especially if you find a bargain on Craigslist. I know 200 bills ain't cheap, but it will save you a lot of time and sore muscles!

For those of us who have the original hipster DNA, meaning that with an iPhone, iPad, iBook or Macbook, you can figure out how to make anything then buying something pre-made isn't an option. If you have to beat your own drum, then get online and look at some basic coop plans. With just a hammer, saw, and stapler, you can easily build something on your own for $150 bucks.

1. Cholesterol Chickens are great, but aren't we all really just after the eggs? I love my chickens, but, man, I live out fantasies of picking up my babes to find golden nuggets to fry up on my antique hipster cast-iron pan.

It will take five to six months for your chickens to start laying eggs, so be patient. Then the hotties are in their prime laying days from six month until two years. Most layers will give you an egg a day until that two-year mark. After two years, they will start slowing down. It's sad, but in the egg industry, it's not uncommon to euthanize all the ladies after they start drying up.

They say there's nothing like an egg from a chicken in your backyard, and I have to agree. The yolks are firmer and darker yellow, and they're organic and an aphrodisiac (I actually made that last part up). What's really an aphrodisiac is telling that babe or dude whom you found sleeping next to you after a hard night of rolling your own cigarettes that you have farm fresh eggs to shove into their face hole.

p.s. The egg comes out of the same hole as the poop hole.

Quick chicken resources in Arizona: - Western Ranchman in Phoenix has chicks for sale in a variety of breeds May through October. Call 602-992-3410 for availability. - Pratt's Pets in Glendale prides itself the "the Unofficial Glendale Zoo." The store carries chickens, exotic reptiles, and small mammals. For more info, call 623-939-3326. - Tempe Feed and Tack on University Drive carries a variety of chicken feed and employees are ready for your questions/disaster stories.

Next up, Goats...

5 Things a Hipster Should Know Before Owning a Goat Lylah Ledner is the co-owner and herd manager at the Simple Farm in Scottsdale, who's been on a self-guided mission to "promote the goat." Goats are easy to own, she says, given you pay attention. Here are a few of her tips:

5. Don't get a goat from an advertising database (like Craigslist): A good goat should cost $300 to $450, and should have current documents that outline what they've been tested for -- CAE, CL, Q Fever, and G6 (to name a few). Make sure the goat has up-to-date blood work, is stable on his/her feet, is well trimmed, and has dry skin. Otherwise, you'll be paying a lot of vet bills later.

4. Goats aren't going to eat everything, but they need a home. Sections of your yard need as much protection as the goats you're keeping. Goats can fall prey to local bobcats, coyotes, and (where she lives) mountain lions. Goats should have a place to stay and sleep with at least five-foot fencing.

3. Be ready for a long-term investment. Goats live nine to 10 years, and during that time, if you have multiples, they're likely to breed. Make sure you know a thing or two about pre-natal care if your goat does kid, and that you regularly have them vaccinated and checked for worms. Your goat will likely come into contact with bugs and other animals in your backyard, plus hoards of your friends who want to hang out with your goat -- that's a lot of exposure to all sorts of germs.

2. Talk about a fancy diet... If you're planning on milking your goat to make fancy goat cheese, be prepared to dish out some fancy ingredients for that goat to eat. Ledner feeds her goats alfalfa hay, Estrella feed, grain, and sunflower seeds, twice a day. And of course, plenty (plenty) of water.

1. Pick up a goat mentor. Seriously. Ledner admits raising goats is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Someone who's been down that path before. Google "Crazy Goat Ladies" and you're likely to find a few, but Ledner also recommends DairyGoatinfo.com, Goat's Digest, and Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats.

Quick goat resources in Arizona: - The Phoenix Permaculture Guild has a forum board with plenty of discussion on goat-keeping in Phoenix. - Depending on the breed of goat you're looking for, you can find lists of local breeders on the American Dairy Goat Association website. - Read more about Ledner's goats on The Simple Farm website.

Next up, Micro Pigs ... Five Things a Hipster Should Know Before Owning a Pig John O'Hagan's a co-owner of Golden Rule Tattoo on Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix. Pictures of his pig, Emma, flood his Instagram feed and are evidence of what he's learned along the way ... Here are five of his musts:

5. Pig-proofing is essential. Before you bring him/her home, make sure to pig proof your house, they'll get into everything. Some pigs even figure out how to open the fridge! They are crazy smart, and remember how you treat them.

4. Legality Check with your local law enforcement and home owners association to make sure you can legally own one.

3. Pigs need space. Make sure they have an indoor and outdoor area. They will potty train themselves if given the option and prefer to go outside.

2. ... and an audience. They are LOUD. Especially when they are pissed. They can get pretty grouchy if they aren't kept occupied. They are super affectionate when they are comfortable, and love to cuddle and get belly scratches.

1. Treats, FTW. Pigs really are food-motivated, so they can be taught to do sweet tricks, and will spend all day trying to figure out what you want them to do as long as there are raisins involved.

Quick pig resources in Arizona: - The Ironwood Pig Sanctuary in Tucson is a non-profit pig rescue organization that has pigs up for adoption. - Pratt's Pets in Glendale sells piglets and pig food. - The North American Pot Bellied Pig Association also releases an annual list of pig breeders and sanctuaries around the country. Check out the list here.

To be continued ...

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