Thursday, February 12, 2009

Trading Eggs for Sweaters, or Family Mockery

I was at a meeting yesterday and when it was over everyone began the ritual packing and gathering of coats, computers, and bags. Amid the zipping and fastening and ripping of velcro, I engaged in a little small talk with the guy standing next to me. I'm a terrible conversationalist, so of course we went straight to discussing the weather. I ended up mentioning how much I love the rain but how I want it to stop long enough for me to have time finish the roof on the chicken coop.

He grinned and his eyes lit up. He jumped right in with a barrage of questions. Apparently he had been considering getting his own little flock of urban chickens and so he had a ton of queries.

I had to keep qualifying all of my responses with "I've only had my chickens for 3 weeks, but..." By the end of the conversation I had promised to send pictures of our chicks and the (nearly completed!) coop.

I'm consistently amazed at how many people I know or meet that are raising chickens or are seriously considering it.

I haven't told most of my relatives about the chickens yet -- I want to wait until the coop is finished and the chicks are outside so I can show off the whole thing at once. My wife and I were joking about how our relatives already think we're a little odd and this will only help cement that. But I got to wondering. Is this Urban Chicken movement anything like the emu fad of the 1990's? Or more specifically, will my relatives see it that way?

Maybe they would; however, it would be easy to explain the difference. Emus were raised mainly for meat, cost thousands of dollars, etc. Ah, but what about alpacas?

Of course, people don't raise alpacas for food (at least, not in the United States). They raise them for the fiber. In that way, alpaca and urban chickens are similar in that you raise them as means of obtaining a renewable resource. You can also throw in the educational value and the fact that they become pets. The Urban Chicken movement certainly has more potential as laws change around the country to allow more chickens in cities (well, some laws go the other way but it seems like the movement is gathering momentum). Chickens require much less space than alpacas; I doubt we'll ever see an "Urban Alpaca" movement. But I don't mean to argue the relative merits of alpacas. Or chickens, really.

In fact, while I may get a little initial ribbing from the folks back East, I bet ours won't be the only family with chickens in a year or two.


  1. sigh. I want it all: chickens, goats, and sheep. Alpacas are cute, but.. a bit odd looking. :) Also, I don't love to spin that fiber. I suppose that's part of it, too.

  2. Funny! I was thinking today that it might be fun to do that. Once...