Somerville Reads is a project that promotes literacy and community by encouraging people all over the City to read and discuss books on the same theme. For our third annual program, the subject is food—local, sustainable, delicious!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Want Chickens?

For those of you who, like Novella Carpenter, want to raise farm animals, check this recent New York Times article on raising chickens for eggs. Writer and farmer Jennifer Trainer Thompson surveys the advantages and challenges of raising chickens for eggs. It's also worth taking a look at this "Diner's Journal" post in which people who have raised chickens weigh in on what it's like.

My favorites:

" the coop well away from any bedrooms - because chickens ARE noisy."

" well protected is your yard? If your neighbors have dogs expect possible issues there too. We lost the occasional chicken that way, and it doesn't make neighbor relations any easier."

"Remove the eggs quickly. We collect the eggs daily for that reason — once the hens know how good they taste, they will go for them."

"...a word of warning for those people considering keeping chicken. Part of the contract we have with domesticated animals is that the end result is slaughter. There will come a time when you will have to kill a chicken....hens get old and stop laying after 2-3 years. Unless you’re going to keep those birds as pets you’ll need to slaughter those as well; you’ll need to slaughter birds that get sick or injured. It’s hard to find a vet that will treat chickens and even if you do, vet bills are prohibitive. So be advised that you should understand your responsibility for slaughter when – not if – the time comes."

If that last admonition leaves a you a little down, you might want to take a break by listening to This American's Life "Poultry Slam," the show's more-or-less annual exploration of "what happens when humans and fowl collide." It's a serious program, but it's got some light moments.

Or just kick back and listen to some music: