Many have come to associate Fair Oaks' chickens with the community, though that hasn't always been the case. To understand how and why chickens came to Fair Oaks, one must first travel back in time and meet another of Fair Oaks' notables: A man named Hugh Gorman.
Though for years many speculated how the chickens actually arrived in Fair Oaks, there is a strong contingency that credit Gorman with being the one who officially introduced chickens to The Village.
Gorman moved to Fair Oaks in 1945; he was 3-years-old. He and his family raised a number of different farm animals, including rabbits, goats and, of course, chickens. Gorman explained he became quite fond of the chickens during the time he spent on that farm.
"I was an only-child till I was 8-years-old, so they were my friends when I didn't have to feed them," Gorman recalled. "I hated getting mash on my hands."
Eventually Gorman left that farm, headed for the University of California, Berkeley where he would earn a degree in landscape architecture. He would return though.
The year was 1977 and Gorman, after a stint in Auburn, Gorman returned to Fair Oaks where he would establish himself in the home he still lives in. He didn't return alone, though. With him, Gorman brought three hens and a rooster from his parents' ranch. That ratio (three hens to one rooster), Gorman believes, was the key to maintaining population control. It wouldn't last forever.
"That was the start of this batch and then someone else started dropping off these roosters," Gorman said. "These roosters were so mean I eventually had to get rid of them, but not before they had left their mark on some of these hens."
After awhile the small population of chickens grew larger till they wouldn't stay in Gorman's or his neighbor's backyards. Gorman had no problem with growing his small population of chickens. He admitted his population grew, but "my four became six, and it took about a year," he said.
It took about five years before Gorman's clucking congregation grew less recognizable. More strays were being dropped off, mainly roosters, he explained. His preferred ratio started to reverse. The roosters started to outnumber the hens until finally he couldn't identify any that belonged to him.
"I don't know if there is even one hen for every four roosters anymore," he said.
Gorman will unabashedly take credit for introducing chickens to Fair Oaks and many would corroborate his story while others were slightly surprised by the news. Sacramento County Neighborhood Services area manager Keri Blaskoski could only guess.
"I don't have a clue!" she said. "Maybe some of them were leftovers that were released when an old chicken farm closed."
Fair Oaks Historical Society member James Pearce can't recall a time before Gorman when so many chickens wandered the streets of The Village.
Karen Denzler just relocated to Fair Oaks from Auburn and was intrigued when friends told her about the chickens.
"I was just thinking chickens in a park, like a petting zoo or something," she said. "It's funny and different; it's not something you see very often."
Today Gorman still enjoys having the chickens around. He's grown so used to them; he hardly even notices the crowing anymore. Though he admits the population of chickens has grown beyond what he originally wanted or could even have imagined, they're still his buddies even if that coveted ratio has disappeared.
"I've never heard anyone complain about a hen," Gorman said. "It's not a chicken problem; it's a rooster problem. There ought to be more hens than roosters."
For more on the history of Fair Oaks, . For even more, check out the Fair Oaks: Then & Now topic page.