COBWEB CORNERS: Chickens on the rampage

By Mel McFarland

       In 1915 Colorado City had a terrible problem. According to the newspapers of the day, one could hardly walk the streets without encountering great flocks of chickens. Many residents had chickens, which “free ranged” the town. On the other hand, many others had chicken houses in the yards behind their houses and kept theirs penned in.
       I can remember our neighbors in the 2900 block of West Pikes Peak Avenue who had chickens in the 1950s and '60s, and the Westside Pioneer has done stories about a couple of families who have them now. We don't often see chickens running loose, but in 1915 orders were published to get those wandering fowl into pens! There were even suggestions that they should be removed by extreme measures, like grabbing and eating them!
       One of my fond memories is of visiting the post office, where boxes of fresh young chicks were peeping away, waiting to be picked up. In fact, fresh baby chickens can still be sent trough the mail. Once they hatch, they are not fed and can survive the shipment.
       I remember one of our West Pikes Peak neighbors who would show some of us schoolchildren how he took the eggs and incubated them. He actually raised chickens for a store across from Whittier School. He furnished fresh eggs and an occasional chicken for the meat counter. He was not the only one. Some people still save their egg cartons for people who have chickens out in the country.
       I have done stories about the neighborhood grocery stores in the past, but I have not really thought about the fresh products they sold until I read this story in the old papers about this fowl problem. As you might expect, there were protests, both from chicken owners and their customers! People were raising chickens and other animals, even close to downtown, into the 1940s. I'm pretty sure there aren't many cows or pigs left in town anymore. Even pet pigs seem to have become less common, but they were not really raised for their bacon. A hundred years ago a family with a garbage disposer meant they either had a teen-age son or a pig!