One thousand square feet. That is how much land you are required to have per chicken if you want to begin an urban chicken coop. The minimum is 2 thousand square feet and a thousand per chicken after that. That is quite a bit of land for one little bird. And listening to Ira Flatow discuss those space regulations on NPR's Science Friday program made me feel better about leaving the new spray park in Oakland today. (wait for it...the two points are connected)
Mellon Park is one of our favorite city parks. Right off of Fifth Ave, two seperate play grounds for older and younger babes, completely fenced in, mostly shaded, and kept very clean. A perfectly lovely morning for us is giving Grant a ride to work then stopping at a local coffee shop for second breakfast and walking over to Mellon Park for an hour or two of free range play. Sweaty, happy babes means a quick lunch and naps. And maybe a quiet spell for this Mama who is growing more accustomed to not having much alone time.
Are there any other stay at home Mamas out there who have been caught off guard at how much they think about a little time away from the people they love the most? I used to feel intense guilt about this and now think it is not only normal but a sign of perfect mental health.
Back to the chicken coop and Mellon Park. This week, the only thing missing from our fabulous park made it's debut- the spray park. Right next to the playground, surrounded by a fence and covered by beautiful shady trees, there are now fountains, splash buckets, red noodl-ey things spraying mist... a glorious brand new spray park. And spray parks are this Mama's (who has severe phobias about public pools) fantasy land. Water play with no submersion. Un-potty trained youngsters keeping their business in their diapers. And I keep a watchful eye, but can carry on a conversation with a girlfriend without the constant distraction of how close your child is to the deep end. (to fly my crazy flag a little higher here, we are going on a family vacation to Hawaii next month and I am so excited to swim with Pursy and Knox in the ocean. This is not scary to me. I am also a very strong swimmer thanks to years of swim team and have never had a bad water experience. There is also the whale issue which is it's own special thing...)
Because of the maiden voyage of the spray park, the last two days have been unbelievably crowded. Children everywhere, play groups, preschool field trips, Mamas just like me who are so ready for Summer and nothing says Summer like babes in swim suits. But it was so crowded that we left after an hour the first day and 30 minutes today. It was like those pictures of Venice Beach where the beach umbrellas are literally touching and you wonder how relaxing it is to lay on the sand with a practically naked stranger an arms length away.
So as I was listening to the land space requirements for urban chicken coops, I thought how nice it would be if there were those same standards for spray parks and children. And just for the record, I am not the only Mama who thinks so. A quick Google search of "free range kids" resulted 12 pages of books, websites, blogs, etc. that center around the concept of letting children run free and with lots of space. Also, there is a new style of parenting called Slow Parenting which is a backlash to the now receiving lots of negative press Attachment Parenting. You can learn more about it when you have time to fall down the rabbit hole of the Google machine....