playing chicken

chickens I’ve gotta upgrade the damn iphone… the auto focus has gone on the damn camera and it’s bloody inconvenient.

Now i have NO FLIPPING IDEA if i will have chickens when i get where i’m going. I am just hoping.  It is just something else to keep in mind when i look at property. What I have figured out is that if you have less than 5 acres you can get a permit for up to 10. I am assuming all of that is dependent on your location, property and who knows what else. and before you say something NO I DON’T AGREE WITH CLIPPING THEIR BEAKS, but considering these birds here are in cages for sale in a feed store, you can understand you don’t want them hassling each other. Whenever I go to the feed store for the 50 pound bags of chicken feed that i use as cat litter, i always spend time looking at the birds.

Having 3 or 4 chickens to care for and pop out fresh eggs is a intriguing,   all my friends who HAVE had them have had difficulty mostly with keeping them safe from predators, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, fishers, bobcats….neighborhood dogs, etc.. aside from that it is reputedly an enjoyable experience and one of the things humans have been able to master for many thousands of years now.   For me a backyard chicken is just a mental exercise – but it’s a pleasant one to play around with.

I’m of the mind that we have distanced ourselves from the food chain, eat too many processed foods and that everyone should have enough money to shop at Whole Foods to buy all their non GMO Organic food. well yeah…But how much of this unrealistic goal can one actually work into an everyday life? When given a choice between two foods I usually pick the healthier one, but like everyone else, i get overwhelmed BY the mere act of choice.  Whereas there are good ketchups and bad ketchups…why are there 75 ketchups? Like our parents, we choose our ketchup and stick with it. I don’t want to lose hours of my life standing in the ketchup aisle choosing what is essentially sweet and sour tomato sauce.

You really need to check in with  Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice and Malcolm Gladwell’s Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce.. both TED VIDEOs.

I’m also a follower of Mark Bittman, at least intellectually. Eat more vegetables, don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize, avoid items with more than 5 ingredients and so forth and so on…all very reasonable concepts. But like the rest of us, i’m at heart a lazy bastard. A couple of days of the week I make a gruelish thing from the Trader Joes multigrain oatmeal with some dried fruit in it, and a couple of days i will scramble eggs…but today I had Life cereal because it was faster and i was in a bad mood.

What does this have to do with backyard chickens? Fresh eggs taste better. Battery chickens are formalized animal abuse. I like animals. At the supermarket buying the local eggs from free range chickens is a burden of choice, I lost hours of my life standing in front of the eggs, trying to decide if buying them for twice the price is worth the cost on that day, and days when i have fuller pockets i just grab them without thinking. If i have eggs in the backyard, then i don’t have to wonder about that again.   Get up, feed and water the birds, check the fence, check the bedding, is the water frozen, is the pen shoveled, is the coop warm enough, do the chickens have mites, are they busy enough? happy enough? and oh by the way…get the eggs, go back in the house and start the coffee. Yes that is essentially the cost of backyard produced eggs. Plus chicken feed, DE (Diatomaceous Earth) which kills mites, cedar bedding, and so forth and so on… so obviously sometimes it is NOT the frugal choice..but it can be the more satisfying choice. And that’s really what i am shooting for these days…..satisfaction.

Coops from Laughing Chicken.com

Coops from Laughing Chicken.com

I have spent some time looking and thinking about coops, like the very elegant ones from Laughing chicken. These ready made kits cost between 600-900 before shipping, so that’s my benchmark, to mentally design one that costs way under that bar.  I am certain I  can build an adequate one in a weekend that doesn’t cost near that amount. I have spent some times poking around on the forums at BackYardChickens.com and like every other topic the internet can lead you to the answers.  Some breeds are more cold hardy, some are more friendly, i wouldn’t want more than 4 or fewer than three…if i lose one that last one would be lonely.  I was wondering how to deal with New England winter, and it’s not as bad as I had expected, lube their wattles and combs, keep their run clear of snow, their bedding nice and deep and hang a cabbage from the ceiling to keep them busy. Go figure.  I would build mine with wheels and a detachable run, so that i can drag it around the yard….go google chicken tractors….and in winter i’d put against the protected side of the garage and jerry rig an awning to keep the snow drifts out of their run – chickens don’t like actual snow.

Like i said it’s all just a mental exercise… I wouldn’t have to buy them at the feed store, I am sure someone out there has chickens to rehome. But it is this creative visualization that my brain does all the time whether i call it that or not. I consider an idea like backyard chickens and turn it around in my mind and pull it out at the edges like silly putty and see what new forms i can make and how the end product will fit in my head.  Nearly none of these ideas every become reality.  My reality is too small and too impoverished.  I can imagine how I would live if i had different choices…  This new experiment is sort of the gigantic oversized egg of silly putty…. what if all i had were new choices?  can i improve my lot in life?   who the hell knows.  I am going to do my best.  But every day i feel it slipping through my fingers.  I am no closer now than i was a month ago.

Yes I sent the ineffectual lawyer an email saying – “it’s not you, it’s me, i desire to see other lawyers” – and THAT email he responded to..not the THREE others i have sent since last thursday.  Spoke to another area lawyer, cousin of a friend who heard my tale of woe and referred me as yet ANOTHER lawyer who called me back first thing this morning, which was a great sign..but then proceeded to dress me down and yell at me for having unrealistic expectations of what a lawyer will actually do for me. So i went back to the phone book and called the local guy with the biggest ad.  He’s from the generation before mine, so he’s OLD school, and so far understands what i need and has treated me with great deference. I have an appointment tomorrow.    Meanwhile I left a VM for the broker my brother is in cahoots with and he hasn’t called me back, foolish tiny human.

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