Your backyard chickens are SO new great depression  »

The New York Times is reaching for human-interest stories, for real, especially about anything that someone without a Manhattan ZIP code might have a passing interest in reading; how will the industry survive if only the rich are buying newspapers? There aren’t very many of them, after all.

Thus we are presented with articles like this nonsense on home-raised chickens. Gosh, says the reporter, seems like folks these days are doing more and more things at home that they used to have done for them! Is it, maybe, kind of, a return to simpler times, not happier ones but those nasty days when people had to be self-sufficient or else they would not survive? Perhaps! This article quotes a lot of people who are keeping chickens in their backyard, where last August no chickens were. This must make it a trend, and how great! Organic, free-range, hormone-free chickens and eggs that come from your own home—all the niche food interest groups are pleased.

But there is a spanner in the works! As it happens, raising your own chickens takes a lot of time and effort. They are not cats, all naps and playing and eating and naps; chickens need outdoor buildings, special food, room to run around, protection from predators, all kinds of extras. Plus, eatin’ chickens are much bigger than layin’ chickens, and thus require significantly more food, which costs money. One of these backyard farmers estimated that each chicken cost $8, while a person could buy a “whole cooked” chicken at a grocery store for $1.99. Sustaining yourself is expensive! Good thing these peasant-farmers aren’t wasting their backyards on things like gardens with vegetables and legumes; they need room for their chickens, each of whom’ll one day make one and a half delicious family meals.

Backyard chickens: Your profit is significantly lower than your original investment, AND you get to participate in the great human tradition of nurturing animals’ lives only to destroy them for your appetite(s). Almost makes me wish I were nasty clever enough to take on such an enterprise myself.

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