I majored in political science in college. I recall studying the concept that if you put ideas on a spectrum from left to right you’ll find that some beliefs will go so far to either the left or the right that they end up meeting in the same place.
This weekend I began seeing the practical wisdom of that concept when I innocently posed a question to my Facebook friends. I’d spent the previous day at an historic home tour of Austin. At every home I visited, I could see that the homeowners are raising chickens. Now Austin being Austin, I had to ask the question of all my friends across America.
Is chicken ownership becoming more common these days across the country, or have I just stumbled upon the rare urban area where chickens are everywhere?
Immediately, the responses began pouring in. Pretty soon it became quite evident that chicken ownership is quite popular these days from coast to coast, but it was the reasons people gave that made it so interesting.
Like most people, I don’t have friends and family who are strictly of one political stripe or another. Knowing that, I try to steer clear of politics with most of these people myself, particularly on Facebook. But I do happen to know that some are ardent environmentalists and others don’t necessarily have much trust in the government. Some treat organic eating as almost a religion while others view a national grocery chain as part of some capitalist plot and seek to find ways to undermine and destroy it any way they can.
That’s what made my chicken question so interesting. It wasn’t the simple fact that people own chickens these days. Clearly, they do (which is why being the good capitalist that I am I’m thinking a pet product business for chickens may be worth an investment). No, what was most fascinating are the various reasons all these individuals gave for chicken ownership that seem so different and yet lead to the same place.
From what I gathered, for my more liberal friends, eating organically and living naturally seems to be appealing. It’s also environmentally friendly since you can feed your chickens table scraps and they later produce eggs for you to eat.
I guess having a pet chicken also feels more humane since you not only get the benefit of fresh eggs, but you can also love, care, and benefit from the chicken’s company and vice versa (I presume this to be the case although in researching this blog I found that one problem with a pet chicken is that it will frequently try escaping which makes me think that no matter how much love and attention you pour on your chicken it may actually loathe and despise you). Also, there is also that inevitable dark day when your pet chicken isn’t useful as a practical matter for anything other than wings at your Super Bowl party, and who wants to eat a pet?
My more conservative friends seem to believe that this a great way to prepare for the day we’ve all feared when our utter dependency on smartphones, grocery stores, and the conveniences of modern life come back to bite us and we’ll all be in true survival of the fittest mode. They are doing whatever it takes to live off the grid even if that means dealing with fowl that as one of my friends noted “is quite foul smelling.”
In a country where we are so divided by politics, wouldn’t it be interesting if the one thing that brings the most extreme of the two sides together is the love of chickens? I’m not holding out a great deal of hope, mind you. Likely, this may just be wishful thinking.
Certainly, it’s a stretch, but given the state of things at this point it might be worth a try.
So chicken owners of the country UNITE! Maybe then we can all start to agree on something.