Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Yorker Writer, Susan Orlean, on Backyard Chickens

You can't read the article online (unless you are an online subscriber) but New Yorker author, Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief) has brought backyard chickens out of the closet and related her experiences with her birds. Here are a few excerpts (but you really need to buy a copy of the September 28th issue with historic vehicles heading to a museum parking garage on the cover).

"Until the nineteen-fifties, it was common to keep a few chickens around. They were cheap and easy to raise; unlike cows or sheep, they were hardy and tolerant of most weather, could subsist on table scraps and bugs, took up little space, required the simplest of housing, and fertilized the garden while they scratched through it. Gathering eggs was so easy that children were often assigned to do it; by contrast, getting milk or meat or wool was a major production. A chicken was a good investment." 

". . . chickens seemed to go hand-in-glove with the post-feminist reclamation of other farmwife domestic arts --knitting, canning, quilting. It was a do-it-yourself hobby at a moment when doing things yourself was newly appreciated as a declaration of self-sufficiency, a celebration of hand-work, and a push-back from a numbing and disconnected big-box life."

"This year, Murray McMurray Hatchery, which caters to people with backyard flocks, sold 1.7 million chickens. . ."

" When one of my hens laid my first home-grown egg. I was as proud as f I had been attending my daughter's bat mitzvah."

"The chicken, that thing with feathers, always and sunny and useful, will endure."