Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

My grandfather lived near the corner of Lake Chabot Road and Seven Hills Road in Castro Valley from the 1930’s into the 1950’s where he operated a chicken ranch. Raising chickens in the valley began early in the century by Portuguese and Italian families and became a thriving business with dozens of ranches covering the rural countryside. As many as 12 hatcheries lined Castro Valley Blvd. providing chicks, equipment, supplies and locally grown kale to feed the growing local industry. My dad worked at a small grocery store in old section of West Castro Valley during his teenage years delivering groceries, eggs and making runs to Petaluma for foul supplies in the store’s old Model A truck. The white leghorn chicken was “King of the Valley” and valley businesses and residents proclaimed “We’re Crowing because we’re Growing”! Our family had a chicken house in our back yard on Forest Avenue in my early years with a couple of chickens and a steady supply of fresh eggs.


Earlier this year Sandy and I traveled to Yuba City to visit with our daughter and family and was surprised by a large shopping center that is happily shared with hundreds of chickens that refused to leave the site of the original ranch that stood on the property. There are chickens in the trees, in the bushes and strutting through the parking lot dodging traffic and pedestrians in a comfortable carefree manner.


My grandfather’s home still stands but the sprawling chicken houses of Castro Valley have long been replaced with subdivisions and the hatcheries along the Blvd. with fast food restaurants, gas stations and a couple of Starbucks. Backyard chicken raising is still popular in unincorporated Castro Valley, and feed and supplies can still be obtained locally. And somehow north of Sacramento in a modern shopping center these resilient feathered creatures of God have learned to happily flourish unmolested in an unfamiliar world.


Oh yeah, TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE...of course!     -Bill