Twenty-first century Iowans are latching onto a pasttime which our pioneer ancestors would have considered one of their daily chores. Paris Hilton and her teacup chihuahuas have nothing on Gary Fellman, who manages the Lakeside Country Store in Council Bluffs which stocks chickens.

“One of the fastest growing extended hobbies that’s out there right now is raising your own chickens and getting your own eggs,” he says. Fellman’s marketing chickens as fun pets, perfect for 4-H or FFA projects and an excellent way to go organic. He says, “We’re starting to see more people garden again and this is just another way for them to raise their own food.”

He says small mobile homes for chickens are becoming popular. “There are several companies that manufacture little chicken coops,” Fellman says. “Some of them are on wheels so if they’re in the back yard you can pick it up and get it on its wheels and move it forward a few feet so you’re also fertilizing your lawn.”

Fellman says raising a small chicken flock is easy, even for beginners. Because of the huge interest in backyard chickens, Fellman is hosting what he calls Chick Days this week at his store. A chicken expert will be there this afternoon.

Fellman says, “He’ll give a talk on raising chickens in your back yard and he will have a question-and-answer session and we have people that work here who know quite a bit about chickens as well.”

Before going hog wild on hens, it’s important to check city codes and ordinances where you live to see if they’re allowed. Some Iowa communities have regulations on how many birds you can keep and others may require a poultry permit from the health department.