The husband and I recently decided that we want to raise chickens. We never even talked about it, but we somehow agreed on it. I think a couple factors contributed to our decision. For him, it was hearing Alice Walker on NPR about a year ago talk about her book, “The Chicken Chronicles.” It was the most loving* description of chickens we’d ever heard. For me, it’s reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” — specifically his painful description of poultry farming. Oh, that and the fact that I am perpetually hungry for affection and feel a desperate need to adopt all cuddly, fluffy animals. (See also: puppies, kittens, baby pandas.) Compared to these other adorable furballs, chickens have the distinct advantage of being low-maintenance and also rewarding its owners with fresh, delicious eggs every day. Most other pets just reward you with unpredictable piles of turd (I’m looking at YOU, silly puppies!).
So I’ve been spending the past X hours researching what it’s like to raise chickens. It turns out that you can buy these baby chicks at only about $3-$4 each, and you can even get the kind that lay blue-tinted eggs. They call these birds Easter Eggers. Though rare, they sometimes even lay pink eggs. Imagine! PINK EGGS! There are a lot of resources on-line for chicken owners. My favorite so far is MyPetChicken.com, which has a pretty informative FAQ section.
From this site, I also learned that if you let chickens roam free in your yard, they will eat up all the garden pests they can get their beaks on. They will also eat grass and cut down on your mowing responsibilities. Their poop will also make great fertilizer. Amazing! And if give them enough exercise, they will produce delicious eggs that are high in Vitamin E, Omega 3, and lower in cholesterol than the store-bought kind. Before coming to China, I was already in the habit of always buying free-range, cage-free eggs, so the idea of getting eggs from my own little chickens sounds so very special.
Woohoo! I’m so excited! I’m totally going to raise chickens! … Someday. When I move back to the U.S. And if we live in a house with a backyard. And if we live in a town that doesn’t have zoning ordinances against raising chickens. Hmm. This may take awhile.
* Until recently, I’d only heard hateful descriptions of chickens. For example, my old high school English teacher used to spew such hatred towards chickens (“Have you ever looked into the eyes of a chicken? Pure evil!”). I don’t remember how that even came up in our English class.