The Return of the Backyard Chicken

The Return of the Backyard Chicken

Cambria Bold
Sep 23, 2009

We've had our own obsession with chickens on Re-Nest, and we found this week's New Yorker article on the resurgence of chicken keeping completely in line with our thinking on the matter. The author, Susan Orlean, sums up the new obsession with chickens by writing that they "seem to be the perfect convergence of the economic, environmental, gastronomic, and emotional matters of the moment..."

Chickens have undergone a complete image rehabilitation. Chicken keeping went from being a common occurrence — and a good investment, since a laying hen used to cost only a few dollars and produced an egg every day or two in her prime laying season — to being a lowly profession, "stuck in the netherworld between the high-stakes cattle business and the matter-of-fact farming of crops, and factory-raised chickens seemed to be the worst of both."

Martha Stewart's 1982 book "Entertaining" began to change that perception. As a committed chicken-keeper herself, she made chickens "seem less like livestock and more like useful, companionable creatures." Add to that the concept in recent years of "The 100-Mile Diet" and a growing focus on eating locally grown food. After all, what could be more local than your back yard?

Orlean also writes that raising chickens goes hand-in-hand with the "post-feminist reclamation" of domestic arts, like knitting, canning, and quilting. (In other words, urban homesteading.) It's "a do-it-yourself hobby at a moment when doing things yourself [is] newly appreciated as a declaration of self-sufficiency, a celebration of handwork, and push-back from a numbing and disconnected big-box life."

Orlean herself purchased the now-well-known modern and innovative Eglu chicken coop from Omlet.

Very interesting reading. Check out the full article at The New Yorker (for subscribers only) or on newsstands now.

Related Posts:

Green Obsession: Chicken Coops
Urban Agriculture: Raising Chickens in New York City
Green Obsession: Chicken Gallery
Green Obsession (Still!): Chicken Coops by Urban Hens
Reclaimed Cedar Chicken Coops by Modern Coop

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