Are Backyard Chickens a Trend?Jack Shafer of Slate.Com claimed in a 2009 article that raising backyard chickens was a bogus trend. He also said, " In all of God's sweet aviary there exists no bird more diabolical and ruthless than the egg-laying chicken." Those were fighting words to anyone who has a flock of pet chickens. Many articles have countered Shafer's attack on backyard chickens and many articles praise the benefits of raising your own chickens. But are backyard chickens really a trend?
As a kid way back in 1959, I started raising chickens in my backyard from chicks I stole from the stable where I boarded my horse. These were scrappy barnyard bantams and I still remember the time our tiny rooster went to the neighbors' and killed their big leghorn! This all happened in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, which now has one of the highest urban populations of backyard chickens.
Most teenagers come home from the state fair with a stuffed bear or a stomachache from eating too many hotdogs, but I came home with a Silkie bantam hen. She was snow white with a pompon of feathers soft as rabbit fur that covered her eyes, making her seem not too bright because she couldn't see where she was going.
I went off to school, married, and didn't have chickens for many years. In 1986 my husband and I bought a home with a large yard in San Jose. The city allowed chickens but not roosters, and I got a small flock of hens. The backyard was divided into two sections, one with the vegetable garden and the other with fruit trees and flowers. I planned to let the chickens free range in the fruit tree section but keep them out of the vegetables. I also had two cocker spaniels and I wanted them to have the run of both areas, so we put a dog door in the fence between the two areas. People claim that chickens are stupid, but don't believe it, my hens learned to use the dog door before the cockers did!
We moved from San Jose to Pioneer, California in 1996 and we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies with our chickens squawking in the back of the truck as we left the big city behind. I've had chickens on and off for fifty years, so it's hard for me to think that I am part of a new trend, but I do believe that more urban and suburban homes have backyard chickens than ever before.
If you think you might like to be part of the backyard chicken trend, join Back Yard Chickens to learn more.
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