My Mom Alice was raised on a chicken ranch in Carmichael – 2017 Gunn Road. Imagine the area near Fair Oaks Boulevard and Arden Way in the 1930’s and 40’s – acres of empty land except for farm houses and their outlying buildings.
This is was no backyard chicken operation – full-on egg production as well as selling live chickens. Each week her father Antonio traveled to the Poultry Producers Association near Oak Avenue and Auburn Boulevard. There he would drop off multiple-layered cardboard cases of fresh eggs that he had carefully weighed, graded small, medium, or large, and checked each egg with backlighting to be sure each egg was suitable for sale. The Asian owners of a company located on Second Street in “Old Sacramento” came to the chicken ranch to purchase my grandfather’s live chickens.
Often my Mom and her three brothers John, Tony, and Joe, would accompany their father into “town” to sell their eggs to two Portuguese grocery stores. Friends and relatives also received eggs from the Cabral chicken ranch. The trips into town wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Buffalo Brewery to pick up a case of bottled beer for the week. And my grandfather would sometimes stop at Old Ironsides for a bit of refreshment before heading back to Carmichael.
My Mom has many stories about her life on the chicken ranch. But here’s the one I’m fondest of. During the depths of the Great Depression, my grandmother Adelina (my Vóvó) would prepare a Sunday dinner for whoever stopped by. Freshly slaughtered chickens, eggs collected that morning, and a bounty of vegetables from their garden would feed their friends and relatives who needed a little help getting by. My grandmother and grandfather were blessed with food and it just made sense to share it.
I’m working with CLUCK to change Sacramento’s city code to allow backyard chickens. I want to raise hens in my backyard for their eggs. I want to have a small front yard garden (well actually I do already, and the onions and garlic are growing nicely in the warmer weather!). And I want to have a little extra to share. It just makes sense. Susan Ballew