Archives for posts with tag: chickens

We arrived back home New Years Day from the Urbana conference in St Louis.  Where our son John lives and raises seven chickens in the backyard on Arsenal Street.

They are hens and after weeks of wondering if they would ever produce now provide three dozen eggs a week.  IMG_1068They also provide wonderment to John’s neighbors.  He showed me photos of young people and older residents of his Benton Park neighborhood who participate in Salvation Army activities on the other side of Arsenal.  Holding a hen.  Collecting eggs.  Sometimes staring with wary delight at these city chickens.  These city dwellers make a field trip across the street to an urban farm.

It seems incongruous.  Farm life in the city.  But John says there are others in the neighborhood raising chickens and growing vegetables.Betsy gardening with the children  Summer 2012

Today the Chicago Tribune features a king of compost.

Lisa Boone writes of Steven Wynbrandt who lives in Los Angeles and sells at $1 a pound rich dark organic material from the compost heap he’s created in his backyard.

“I’m an alchemist,” Wynbrand says.  His mother June agrees. “It’s more than beautiful.”  Looking out the kitchen window she says “it’s magical.”

Wynbrandt Farm

Check out Steven’s page for the Wynbrandt Farm and Wynbrandt Biodynamic Compost.

There is something magical, wonderful about finding fresh eggs and vegetables in LA, inner city St Louis or a number of cities across the USA.  Even strutting peacocks in yards near Woodward Avenue in Detroit.  It made me slow down to make sure that it was what I thought I saw.

As children it mystified us.  The green sprout growing out of a seed wrapped in a moist paper towel.

And now as urban dwellers we are surprised, and delighted by this echo of our agrarian ancestors now returning to us.



Near Keokuk Street I heard a rooster crow.  Twice.

I was on my run yesterday morning in St Louis.  A quiet Sunday morning in south St Louis, a mile west of the Anheuser Busch brewery.  The sky is lighting up in the east.  I couldn’t tell if the faintly sour air was the brewery or the dumpsters along Iowa Street.

Laclede Park.  Then, where Iowa dead-ends, west on Chariton.  Turn around, back up Iowa.

A block ahead I see a dog in the middle of the street, standing still, looking my way.  Pit bull.  It has staked that block.  I slow to a jog and turn around.  I’m now on California.  Just ahead two dogs together crossing a vacant lot near Cherokee.  I keep my head down and slow to a nonchalant pace.  Several blocks later three cats sit in the remains of a house’s entry, indifferent to a runner in the street.  Near Arsenal, a grizzled tom cat on the sidewalk meanaces me.

Animals with attitudes.

Here are animal photos taken over the weekend at Temple Houses.

John says this hen runs out to greet him, follows him, always curious about what John is doing.  It was curious about me.

Temple Houses have a chicken coop in the back.  They built it earlier this fall and waited for the seven hens to start producing eggs.  Finally two weeks ago, an egg.  Saturday morning I checked a laying box.  A beautiful brown egg.

Young people and senior citizens from Temple Corps programs cross Arsenal to see the chickens, touch and hold them.  The gardens are also an attraction.  Lately the seniors have collected fresh salads to take home.  John pointed out the kale.  Just clip some, nice and fresh.

Saturday night Gail and I had pizza with Steve and Ketsia Diaz (Kyle, too) and the young adults in Temple Houses along Arsenal and California Streets.  Several are City Vision College interns.  Others are involved in the neighborhood as Salvation Army staff, volunteers.  All are part of this growing and developing community living as a witness in the Benton Park neighborhood.

Check out Temple Houses website for photos of Mike, Michael, Darnell and Natalie, some of their current residents.

Steve and Ketsia frequently host these Saturday evening get-togethers for Temple Houses.  After the meal Steve introduced us to those who were new.  He and John gave information on recent incidents and news in the neighborhood.  What to do when trouble is seen (call Steve, John or 911).  How to help young people attending the corps whose father was shot to death.  A time of prayer.

After the meeting sitting in the kitchen, visiting.  I watched Lou and Beckham wrestle.   They are owned respectively by the Diaz’ and Laura Grainger.  Along with John’s Boone they form an impressive set of dogs, not an unhelpful resource for living in Benton Park.

Here’s the egg layer.

After a hot day the Temple Houses are ready to travel for ice cream at Crown Candy!

They look happy.  In anticipation of ice cream and a cooler summer evening.

I was in St Louis for the weekend.  Sunday morning at the Salvation Army’s Belleville IL Corps with Captains Heath and Anita Sells.  Heath and Anita served with us for a summer in the 1990s on Detroit’s west side.  They are friends and colleague officers.  They are also developing a proposal for greenhouse gardening with the support of interested community backers offering resources to make it happen.  Gardening and job training.

The picture shows Temple House people Saturday evening about to travel to the north side for ice cream at Crown Candy.  John and I had chocolate malts.  We were happy.

In the picture, left to right –

  • Natalie, a transplanted Salvation Army soldier from the Twin Cities in graduate social work studies at Washington University
  • Hilary from Cleveland OH who just arrived last week.  She will help with Temple day camp and other Salvation Army work this summer and then begin the Urban Ministry Internship Program at Temple Houses this September.  UMIP offers practical field experience in St Louis and an urban ministry degree from City Vision College.  Three more interns will soon join Temple Houses.
  • Laura, director of the new CHOICES program sponsored by the Army.  CHOICES will work to develop the full potential of young people and their families living in the Temple neighborhood.
  • Betsy just returned home to Georgia this week after several weeks gardening for the Temple Houses.  She’s responsible for the flower and vegetable beds and general beautification on Temple House grounds.
  • Auxiliary Captains Steve and Ketsia Diaz, officers in charge of the Army’s St Louis Temple on Arsenal Street.
  • front row:  Boone, Kyle and John.  Kyle is Steve and Ketsia’s son, a charmer.  John, my son.  Boone, one of three Temple House dogs.  Yesterday’s post showed Boone taking a break with Lou and Beckham who respectively belong to the Diaz’ and Laura.

Darren, who just completed his urban ministry internship, is away for the summer working in California.  He returns to Temple Houses next month to begin a new phase of internship that allows both intern and The Salvation Army to determine if full-time ministry as a Salvation Army officer is in the future.

John and Captain Steve pondering ice cream choices at Crown Candy

What is the common denominator of Temple House residents?  All are Christians living in shared quarters within a block of the Temple Corps and help with its ministry to the neighborhood.  They are committed to make a difference in the name of Jesus in the Benton Park community of St Louis.

John and Betsy completed this chicken coop last Saturday in the back yard of a Temple House.  Yesterday four hens moved in.  John is thinking omelettes.

John sent this photo showing Betsy G. gardening with children in the St Louis Temple neighborhood.

Betsy arrived a couple weeks ago and plans to stay the summer working the yards around the corps building and Temple Houses on and near Arsenal Street in south St Louis.  John’s sent a few nice Instagrams of the attractive and creative things that have been done.  If I can figure out how to share some of them here, will do.

One Temple House project is backyard chickens.  They built a coop and hope to see some egg production soon.

Gardens.  Chickens.  What will they do next?

%d bloggers like this: