The IT Bird - Susan Orlean

My mom showed me this article in her magazine.

ABSTRACT: POPULAR CHRONICLES about the writer’s chicken fixation. Chickens seem to be a perfect convergence of the economic, environmental, gastronomic, and emotional matters of the moment. In the past few years they have undergone an image rehabilitation so astounding that it should be studied by marketing consultants. The writer admits that she is an animal fancier, but until recently, only of the fur-bearing type. Describes the effect of the documentary “The Natural History of the Chicken” on the writer. Also mentions the presence of chickens in Martha Stewart’s book “Entertaining” and in the pages of her magazine. Until the nineteen-fifties, it was common to keep a few chickens around. They were cheap and easy to raise. Gathering eggs was so easy that children were often assigned to do it. Buying eggs year round at a supermarket is a relatively recent development. Part of what is unusual about chickens is that they have always been women’s livestock: women and chickens just seemed to have a natural harmony. Mentions books and magazines about chickens, including “A Little Journey Among Anconas” and tells about the creation through breeding of a new type of chicken, the Cochin, in the 1840s. A frenzy of poultry breeding and showing and speculative trading followed, a crazed bubble nearly on the scale of Dutch tulip mania. As Americans drifted from the country to the cities, they took their chickens with them. Writer tells about her decision to own chickens. Discusses the concept of the hundred-mile diet and the popularization of locavore eating. Describes how she came to purchase an Eglu, plastic chicken coop designed by the British company Omlet. Briefly interviews Johannes Paul, one of the founders of Omlet, who describes the origins of the idea for the Eglu. Writer tells about the arrival of her Eglu and her early experiences of rearing chickens. Even people central to the chicken world are predicting what might supplant chickens, if and when chickens run their course—goats or ducks. Chickens have already survived hen bubbles and cholesterol scares and the enormous social change that chased them out of the back yard. But, the chicken, that thing with feathers, always sunny and useful, will endure.

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