Wednesday, April 21, 2010

City Chicks

There’s something special about producing your own food, picking it, plucking it or pulling it from the ground. Whether you have herbs growing out on the balcony or a full-blown veggie garden flourishing in the backyard, it's great to go back to basics, get your hands dirty and create something from nothing.

If you’ve ever had the chance to search for warm, freshly laid eggs created by your very own cheeky chooks then you know how magical and rewarding that feeling is. If you haven’t, and you’d like to, then it might be time to give Ingrid Dimock of City Chicks a call.

We visited Ingrid at her home in The Gap over the weekend and got a chance to meet the chooks and chicks, the boutique hens and a lone duckling and found out what City Chicks is all about. We're suckers for baby animals too.

Ingrid’s a teacher by trade but after having three kids and returning to work, she decided it just didn’t sit right.

“I felt I really had to do something else,” Ingrid said. “I stayed home for about six months and I just went mad, then I was looking for something to run myself. I read about a fellow in Sydney, the rent-a-chook bloke, and read he had a simple rental concept with a couple of chooks and it was just going gang-busters. I just thought that was really wild,” she said.

At the same time Ingrid and some of her gal pals were thinking of getting some chooks of their own but weren’t impressed with what they encountered.

“We had gone to a produce shop and had quite a negative experience,” Ingrid said. “We were educated women with about 100 questions and these blokes just weren’t interested in looking after us at all. I felt there could be a niche market for something like we were after,” she said.

The market is certainly there and business is booming, with everyone from mums and young couples to empty-nesters getting on the backyard bandwagon.

“It’s more mums with young kids,” Ingrid said. “They bring the kids here, have a look at the chooks and have a chat. We also have a lot of empty-nesters who had chooks when they were kids or who are semi-retiring and want to set up something in the backyard. We also sell to a lot of younger people who want to set up something in a terrace home or in a small yard or at their parents’ house. We tend to sell more of the boutique chooks then, the little fluffy ones, which are probably more lap chooks than anything else,” she said.

Chooks make great pets too apparently – they poo a lot though so if you’re planning to have them around the house it might be best to invest in a chook nappy. I’m not even kidding, they exist.

“I had some clients come to me saying ‘Look, Dorris and Abigail come inside with us and watch TV but I have to put a big towel on my bloody lap because they’ve been pooing everywhere,” Ingrid said. “I thought I would research it on the internet, so I hunted and hunted and I eventually stumbled on a link. Now I sell one a week. If you have a sick chicken and you’re keeping it inside, it’s not a bad thing to have one anyway.”

If chicken poo isn’t for you, City Chicks has expanded due to the constant push for other types of produce and they can now organise anything from native beehives to mushroom gardens and veggie patches.

“People would often phone in after a while saying, ‘The chickens are really good but I’ve just got all this shit everywhere’ or ‘My husband is hopeless and I want to get a garden bed’,” Ingrid said. “Then I started thinking, well if that can work, what else can we do? I especially wanted to encourage the kids to get into the backyard as that is really what we are all about.”

Be sure to visit the City Chicks website, they have loads of interesting family-friendly things.

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