I am afraid I have raised a bunch of entitled chickens.
My chickens have the best possible life for domestic birds. They have organic feed—and not just ANY organic feed, but the feed that requires me to drive out of town to purchase it, rather than hauling a bag home on my bike. They have access to piles of compost full of bugs and worms and other tasty bites. They have chicken treat (also known as table scraps) delivered to their door, rather than dumped in the pile of compost with everything else. They have some grass to nibble on and they are adept at thrusting their heads through not one but two fences to take large chunks out of the pole bean leaves.
They have a new coop which rests on some excellent leaf mulch and straw to poke in when they are in, which is seldom in the summer because Mark rises at the crack of dawn, literally, to let them out so that they do not fuss and wake people up too early. They have a nest box which they have rejected for eight months now, preferring to lay their eggs under the hazelnut tree. They have access to a quarter of the back yard, which includes all of Mark’s compost piles, a pool of water to stand in on hot days, and two hives of bees. Occasionally they have to share the space with the bunny, who can slip under the fence, or the cat next door, who also likes the shade of the blackberry thicket.
They will live their lives out here, protected from predators, until they die of old age. They will not be thrown in the stew pot when they stop laying. They will be allowed to drowse in the sun and claim the best tidbits as their own, even if they live to be twelve years old (which is some kind of crazy chicken record). They have dream lives.
And yet—do they appreciate this life? No. They holler. They fuss. They walk the fence. Not to get too political, but they act like the One Percent—which they are, of the chicken world. That is MY NEST SPOT Bertha shouts as Blondie moves under the hazelnut tree. MINE. And they she sits on her sister, literally squashing her down. Or they all shout at a jay—my yard, my yard, my yard—when she tries to scope out a nesting place or a bit on compost for her own. God forbid another bird land in the pool for a quick dip! It’s embarrassing. It’s annoying. I wish I could train them out of it, but it is their nature to protect this perfect life for themselves, even when it costs others a good morning’s sleep or worse.
We are not chickens. But we behave like they do fairly often, shouting MINE, MINE at the tops of our lungs, protecting our perfect lives, no matter what the cost to others. Maybe our goal should be to be a little less like backyard, One Percenter Chickens, and more like human beings, who are not bird-brained and can work out compromises and share the resources equitably. And then everyone could sleep a little more easily at night.
Frittata—what’s for dinner when there is nothing else
Using a large cast iron skillet that can go into the oven, cook two or three cups of veggies. Potatoes in chunks and greens are nice, but not essential. Add garlic and herbs.
Chunk some cheese—a good handful. Beat three or four or five eggs in a bowl. Add the cheese
Throw the eggs and cheese into the veg and stir. Cook until there are little bubbles in the egg mixture on the stove, the finish off under the broiler.
If there are leftovers, do not leave them in the iron pan overnight, but transfer into containers for lunch at work the next day.