The farm is not supposed to be a factory.
It is supposed to be a place where you grow something. To nourish us, to delight us – to grow us.
This not an article to describe how awful our farms currently are. I will not chronicle the life of chickens housed in hellish conditions. “Dung Pools” that accompany our cattle ranches. GMO farming and the use of pesticides – and those poisons don’t just ill pests but poison us.
Maybe you can’t have a cow in your back yard.
But if you have a house with a backyard, you probably can have a few chickens.
I bought four baby chicks at the hardware store across the street in my very suburban town.
They cost me about $15.
I build a modest coop. It is not going to win any architecture or design awards, but they have enough room and cluck happily when I approach.
Turns out they love all the food my kids waste. Uneaten asparagus and lettuce and carrots have found a home in these birds bellies.
Yes, they poop.
Yes, it smells.
No, it is not a big deal to clean up.
I have 5 kids – I have smelled far worse from my own flesh and blood.
They need attention, but not every minute of every day. I have found them to be quite reasonable. You always learn unexpected things when you pay attention to them. I learned that these birds have a clear intelligence about them. What problems are they solving? I am not smart enough for that – but I know they are thinking.
In the past few months, they have grown from cute little commas with fuzz to birds that look just like you expect them too. And they are prettier than I expected. Shiny with health and subtle colors.
We bought eggs from someone raising birds in just such a manner. Those eggs were simply different – better – more surprising – than what came out of the cartons at the grocer.
You can’t dismantle the whole, disgusting factory farming system that we have.
But you can have a few birds out back.