Why Have Chickens?

Reader Contribution by Storey Publishing Authors
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Why raise
chickens? Because they’re the pet that makes you breakfast. They bring home
good food and belly laughs. Chickens are quirky, beautiful, and oddly clever.
They come in countless colors, shapes, and varieties, and there’s not a culture
on the planet that doesn’t raise them. These hardy birds will teach you basic
livestock handling and amaze you with their individual character traits. More
good news: They don’t break the bank. A handful of chicks will cost less
to purchase than a large pizza and require less effort than your house cat.

You in so
far? Good.

reason to raise chickens is the quality of your own free-range eggs, which will bowl you over. No more watery whites
and pale yolks. You are in for the richness of a country hen’s egg — eggs
scientifically proven to be lower in cholesterol and higher in omega-3 fatty
acids, keeping you and yours healthier with every new arrival in the nest box.
Not to mention these eggs will improve your lovely baked goods and make your
omelets tastier.

And my
favorite reason to raise chickens: They add life and vigor to your home,
turning houses into homesteads and children into naturalists. Pouring scratch
grains into a metal bin, closing the coop door at night, mending a hole in the
fence so the fox stays at bay — these actions connect us to our food and to our
past. Trust me. It’s a better life that comes with morning clucks.

Contrary to
popular belief, you don’t need to live down a country road to keep chickens.
Even if you live on the corner of a four-way stop in Portland, given proper care and a little room
to flap their wings these gals can adapt and thrive in any environment. What
you do need is a little bit of space, some research, and a city ordinance that
allows laying hens.

Turns out
this isn’t asking too much because nowadays people are keeping chickens in
places no one considers cliché. Young couples in suburbia have Ameraucanas
perching on flowerpots and kids racing past Wyandottes when they fly out the
back door to jump into the car for football practice. They’re keeping these
birds because they want to know where their food comes from, sure, but they’re
also keeping them because having chickens is fun and easy, and it’s hard to be
bored mowing your lawn when a trio of hens is waddling behind you for the free
salad bar.

Besides feeding
you breakfast, chickens are always good for a laugh.

Storey Publishing will bring several authors to both 2012 MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRs. You can learn more about chickens in the book Chick Days by Jenna Woginrich.

Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Puyallup, Wash. FAIR June 2-3, and the Seven Springs, Pa., FAIR Sept. 24-25. Tickets are on sale now.

You can also get FAIR updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.