Raising chickens is a very popular hobby right now. Mountain View just happens to be one of the bay area cities that allows residents to have 4 hens (no roosters) in their backyard. We’re lucky!
There isn’t any place in Mountain View that you can purchase live chickens. I recommend finding a breeder on Craigslist. There lots of local support groups that you can connect with online, like Silicon Valley Chickens and Backyard Chickens on Yahoo and Facebook. Lots of people just connect to those groups in order to learn about chickens, in preparation for owning them someday.
Backyard chickens will require a sturdy coop or hen house because we have raccoons in Mountain View. And the birds will need some kind of shelter or safe place during the day, because we have hawks in this area.
There are lots of websites that are dedicated to people to showing off their coops and the plans that they used to build them. YouTube is another place that you can get coop/hen house ideas. Pinterest is full of chicken loving people who want to share some of the most incredible handmade coops you have ever seen. Or you can purchase a ready-made coop if you don’t want to deal with building your own.
Mountain View doesn’t have a traditional “feed store” but there are some really nice ones within the bay area. I recommend Sam’s Downtown Feed and Pet Supply in San Jose, Robert’s Hardware and Tack in Woodside, or Half Moon Bay Feed and Fuel. An-Jan Feed and Pet Supply is popular, but I’ve never been to one.
Some of our local schools raise chickens as a class project. What a fabulous way for students to learn about the responsibility of owning a pet, how to have a compost pile and use it for organic gardening, and what to do with all those eggs.
Pet chickens are usually quiet. Yes, they make noise after they lay an egg, but the rest of the time they don’t make much noise other than their social clucking to each other. They only scream if a predator comes near their pen. Mine yell if a neighborhood cat comes into my yard. It’s pretty easy to teach them anything that you want them to do, like when you want them to go to bed, how to get them to return to their coop after you let them wander around in the yard. They never try to leave my yard. I’ve heard about others who had trouble with them going to visit a neighbor, but as long as your yard has everything they need, I think they’ll stay where they belong. Yes, they’ll eat your plants, but you can fence off certain areas if you don’t want them to eat everything. I supervise mine and encourage them to leave the tomato plants alone and eat the weeds instead. They usually cooperate.
We’re really lucky that our community allows us to have chickens. I love Mountain View.