Loving, Rather Than Cooking, Our Chickens
(photo credit: John Young)

We have a saying at Phony Pharms (our property in Central Roseville, CA): “Chickens Are Pets.” Sure, my family and I have consumed plenty of chicken over the years, but we make a clear distinction between “Meat Chickens” (which we buy frozen from the grocery store) and “Egg-Laying Chickens,” which make up the wonderful and unusually smart animals running around the large coup in our quarter acre backyard. We decided to take the chicken plunge 10 years ago, when my teacher-wife Meg brought home the results of an egg incubation project she had been demonstrating to her first grade class. Our first three birds were named Blanca, Rocky, and Sprite, and as soon as they were mature enough we began getting eggs…and an unexpected bonding with all three. They were like cats with wings: they would come to you when you called, they were easy to pick up and carry around, and they got along fine with our cat and dogs. They were the perfect pets: fun, loyal, and they allowed me to have a fresh egg sandwich nearly every morning. Now we are on our second set of chickens; we got Ruth and Sally as teenage birds, or “Pullets.” Unlike the previous three, the current pair have never had to endure 110+ degree heat; this past week’s record-setting temperatures put them in real danger. My wife, the “chicken whisperer,” asked me if I would be OK with bringing them in our air-conditioned house during the worst part of the heat wave. Recognizing that I had a lot more to lose than my clean tile floor if I said NO, I readily agreed (providing we utilized a massive tarp). Note the happy faces of our two kooky cluckers staring through the bathroom glass door, their beaks mercifully closed rather than half-open and panting. My fear is that Meg will ultimately decide to keep them there…how far away is Fall? #chickenlove #petchickens

John Young

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