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Backyard chicken lovers flock to new group

Source: LoHud.com (NY Lower Hudson Valley)
Date: July 13, 2009
Byline: Aman Ali

STAMFORD, Conn. — Some might say Melina Brown is "egg-centric," proudly raising dozens of adult chickens at her home.

"I'm not some crazy chicken lady," she said, surrounded by a handful of other chicken enthusiasts yesterday. "There's plenty of us out there. That's why I wanted to find other people who are interested in what I'm interested in."

Yesterday was the first meeting of the Southern Connecticut-Westchester Backyard Poultry Meetup, a networking group for people who raise chickens at their homes. About 10 people attended the meeting at the Cosi restaurant in Stamford.

The group was put together using Meetup.com, a social networking site to organize gatherings.

According to the Meetup site, 1,471 people in five countries belong to backyard poultry groups.

"It's huge and it's growing," Brown said. "In a way, backyard poultry is a return to our roots in the earth. It's a greener way of living, and chickens make fantastic pets."

Brown, a Stamford resident, said she put the group together to take a break from her political writing, which she regularly posted on her blog ripcoco.com. "Since Obama got in, I've decided to move away from politics," she said. "That's when I got really interested in chickens."

One of the people who got her interested in the animals was Andy Schneider, aka "The Chicken Whisperer," a radio host in Atlanta whose program focuses on backyard poultry. Schneider leads the largest backyard poultry group on Meetup, with 700 members, and attended yesterday's meeting in Stamford virtually using the Internet chat program Skype.

Brown said those interested in raising chickens at home should research the idea first. Some municipalities may ban the practice, and Brown added that some neighbors might cry fowl over crowing roosters — a complaint she's gotten her fair share of.

Debbie Fengler of Wallingford, Conn., said she has a way to deal with noise complaints. "I tell people that roosters aren't any noisier than a barking dog," she said.

The group's next meeting is at 2 p.m. July 26 at Cosi, 1209 High Ridge Road, Stamford. For details, contact Brown at MelinaBrown@optonline.net.