Housing and goats

This afternoon I dropped by an open house at a condo. It was the gentlest possible getting-my-toes-wet; the place is literally two and a half blocks from my apt, there was nobody else there except the realtor guy (who said hello, told me to ask if I had any questions, and then ignored me, which was exactly what I wanted him to do), and it gave me a chance to sort of try out the process of looking at a place without any stress.

I learned some things. Like that 1180 square feet isn't necessarily a lot, especially if one of the bedrooms is particularly large. And that "loft bedroom" refers to an open space bordered on one side by a railing overlooking the living room; I kept expecting there to be another room, because what they were calling a loft bedroom had no privacy at all. (I've been in other condos with a similar layout that had a real bedroom-with-a-door upstairs, so I think my expectation wasn't totally unrealistic.)

Anyway, helpful in refining what I'm looking for, and it took no more than 15 minutes total (probably including walking to and from). And I took some pictures for later comparison to other places—mostly just to test the waters on whether asking if I could take photos would be seen as weird.

Afterward, I headed off to Oakland to hang out with the previously mentioned high school friend (call him M) who I've been out of touch with for probably six or seven years now. It was lovely to see him and to meet his sweetie J and another friend of M's who was visiting. M and J recently bought a lovely house in the Oakland hills, with a magnificent view of the East Bay (and, on a clear day, SF). They showed us around what appeared to be the main part of the house, a couple nicely appointed bedrooms and a big kitchen and a huge airy living room, and then they took us downstairs and there was a whole other half to the house, a giant rec room/basement/study kind of thing that they're going to turn into a master bedroom, with a huge glassed-in balcony (kind of greenhouse-feeling) with a hot tub and big windows overlooking the aforementioned view. Zowie.

Also, underneath the house they keep chickens. Apparently a lot of people in suburbia are keeping chickens these days. Who knew?

And they have a giant overgrown yard out behind/below the house. And a huge pair of ramshackle rooms underneath the garage.

To add to the livestock theme, they took us half a block down the street to the open-space preserve, where (I kid you not) there was a herd of goats grazing on the hillside. It seems the city of Oakland owns this herd of goats that they rent out to trim fire-hazard brush and grass. (The article doesn't make clear whether Oakland actually owns the goats or not, but that's what M said.)

Later, we had a long fascinating discussion about language and culture and the difficulties of moving to America when you know very little English (which J had done a couple years ago), and the problems involved in providing help to homeless families from various cultures, and, oh, singing and acting and all sorts of stuff. V. nice.

Somehow whenever I start out to write a quick little entry, digression happens (he said, disclaiming responsibility) and I just go on and on. So I'll stop now.

8 Responses to “Housing and goats”

  1. M. (Not the M in the blog.)

    Hee. In Austin, where I live, people also keep chickens. It was never unusual to be woken up by a rooster crowing when I lived in SE Austin. We had them when I was a kid. (3 cents an egg at the local gas station/fresh grocery. Woo hoo!)

    Lately there’s been a big stink about it. A lot of wealthy people are coming in, remodeling the old, classic, wood-floor houses in these “chicken-raising” areas, because they look like Pottery Barn Palaces when done right. And they’re getting pricey. But the new neighbors don’t like the chickens. (They wander, poop on cars, lay inconvenient eggs, etc.) The established residents are mildly perturbed by all this. They have *always* had these backyard gardens, and depend on them for eggs, meat, and veggies. As the city creeps closer across the I-35 divide, it’s sad to see them go. They just held a “Keep Austin Weird” rally to address concerns like these. I didn’t go, but I wish I had. I put ’em in a coupla stories instead. 🙂

    Meanwhile, I had to move north to cheaper housing. And there are goats here. My drive to work looks something like this: Big supermarket center on corner, Texaco, McDonald’s. New YMCA extravaganza. High school. Goat farm. Goat farm. New housing development. Goat farm. Cross under highway. Restaurants. Goat farm. Cheap hotel, cheap hotel, goat farm, goat farm, Dell distribution center.

    It’s comforting, in its own way.

  2. celia

    We used to keep chickens in our backyard, so that doesn’t seem that weird to me. 🙂 But, of course, I just think of us as suburban because we’re outside of the town. Anyone who lives somewhere with more than 6K people in the town knows we’re really rural. (We’re set on an acre of land, the neighbors have about two or so, and have a number of horses, the other side of us is a tree farm, with the prison reservation behind us–we used to keep ducks, and we’d dam the creek running through our back yard just after it flowed under the fence, so the ducks could go back under it and have a *really* big yard.)

    Oh, look. that was going to be a short answer, but it digressed. 😉 Anyways, chickens are cool, so long as you don’t have roosters. They eat up all your scraps, lay eggs, and gardens planted where chickens used to live grow good greenery, but not so good root veggies. Too much nitrogen, I think.

  3. Jed

    So why no roosters?

  4. Nao

    I don’t know for certain if this is the answer to Why no roosters?, but if I sit out on the steps of my duplex 2 minutes outside Chapel Hill NC, I can hear a rooster crowing all day long. Fortunately, it’s at a fair distance, so I can tune it out.

    When I go into town, I have to watch out for a flock of geese (domestic, not Canada) that wanders up and down beside (and sometimes into) the road; not to mention the chickens-possibly-in-the-road just inside town. Though I think the spontaneous pedestrians on campus are worse than the chickens and geese. I must say, however, that the chickens are not middle-class chickens. Rather, their owners appear to be trying to live up to Northern stereotypes about the South by having ramshackle buildings, dead cars, and living room furniture on the porch. Not to mention the chickens in the road. (This is starting to sound like that Uncle Bonsai song…)

    I think I’ll stop rambling now!

  5. Nao

    Oop. Bracketing error. They don’t have ramshackle buildings or dead cars on their porch.


  6. M. Again

    “Why no roosters?”

    Roosters are nasty, territorial, unpredictable, and mean. Chickens (hens) are docile. I used to work summers at an “organic” chicken farm for a local chef, and these things *terrorized* me. I tried to raise one as a pet. He tried to scratch my eyes out. Nasty.

    Ahh. Chicken stories. Bringing people together across the globe. 🙂

  7. Nao

    I tried to raise one as a pet. He tried to scratch my eyes out. Nasty.

    I think it may depend somewhat. When she was a child, my mother raised a variety of poultry for 4H. Among these were bantams–one of the males was her favorite and would sit on her lap, sort of purring. His name was Muffin, and he saved his mate from the perfidious machinations of a cub scout and a peregrine hawk which the family was keeping for my great-uncle while he traveled. A watercolour of Muffin lives on my mother’s living room wall to this day.

    But my mother says the bantams were different in behavior from the other chicken breeds.

    I have no other chicken stories, so I’ll stop now.

  8. Vardibidian

    Has Alex Beam been reading Lorem Ipsum?


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