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Pampered Backyard Chickens: the Latest Humblebrag

Want some news besides shootings, the gun debate and President Trump's latest rants? Check out this story from the Washington Post about Silicon Valley's pampered egg-laying chickens being raised as a status symbol by environmentally conscious people with enough money to burn.

It seems that the latest craze among the tech-rich set is to raise fancy, expensive chickens that can produce colored eggs and even serve as comfort pets. According to the article by Peter Holley, these folks are using upscale backyard chickens as a back-to-nature release from their stress-filled work lives spent in front of computers. One lady keeps diapered chickens in her house.

Here's a paragraph from Holley's article:

In America’s rural and working-class areas, keeping chickens has long been a thrifty way to provide fresh eggs. In recent years, the practice has emerged as an unlikely badge of urban modishness. But in the Bay Area — where the nation’s preeminent local food movement overlaps with the nation’s tech elite — egg-laying chickens are now a trendy, eco-conscious humblebrag on par with driving a Tesla.

The article says these folks are spending thousands on fancy high-tech chicken coops, so fancy in fact that one homeowner plans to turn his chicken haven into an Airbnb rental property when his chickens have flown the coop, so to speak.

Here's some more from Holley's article:

“At Amazon, whenever we build anything we write the press release first and decide what we want the end to be and I bring the same mentality to the backyard chickens,” said Ken Price, the director of Amazon Go, who spent a decade in San Francisco before moving to Seattle. Price, 49, has had six chickens over the past eight years and is already “succession planning” for his next “refresh.”“We’re moving toward a more sustainable cost structure,” he noted — zeroing in on the chickens that produce the most eggs with the least feed.

And, then there's this:

Silicon Valley chickens are often considered “members of the family,” explained Moira Hanes, noting that she refuses to eat baked chicken from Whole Foods in front of her three birds. A Berkeley professor registered her one-eyed special needs rooster, Gwennie, as an emotional support animal. Because of his cross beak disability, she feeds him baby food mixed with grain. He also gets a weekly bath and a blow dry — “which he LOVES,” she said in an email.

Of course, being able to say that you are raising such chickens in your backyard means that you have a backyard, and that means that you have space, and that screams money, the article says. No doubt it also means you don't live in a development with a homeowners association (HOA), because most would have covenants prohibiting backyard chickens.

Our HOA bans such things, but then our lots are only a quarter acre or smaller, not much room for a $20,000 chicken coop or even one cobbled together with spare lumber and chicken wire.

Don't think we'll be raising chickens any time soon, so we'll just have to be satisfied with the eggs from the grocery store.

#fancychickens #PeterHolley #Amazon #SiliconValley

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