The term "chicken lover" probably doesn’t evoke a positive mental image.
However, keeping backyard chickens in Kansas City is an activity that’s undergoing a bit of a Renaissance. For extremists, backyard chickens are a way to really go all out with the "urban farming" trend. Also, backyard chickens are the trendy new pet in much the same way that weirdos used to love pot-bellied pigs.
Maybe backyard chickens don’t deserve an extensive analysis but I’ve always wondered about people who would make their backyard a more delicious place in an urban environment.
Recently, local blogger and real estate agent Sarah Snodgrass posted a comprehensive municipal regulation guide for Kansas City residents wanting to keep backyard chickens. It’s informative but it doesn’t really give us insight into the kind of person who might want to keep farm life so close to their urban dwelling.
It’s not really a mystery. I’ve always assumed that any person who could be described as a "chicken lover" is probably kind of an oddball. Nevertheless, there’s always been a subset of backyard chicken enthusiasts in this town. Only nowadays, there’s a bit of trendy, street cred attached to urban chicken enthusiasts and that has taken the hobby to new heights.
That’s right, hipsters now keep chickens.
For the most part I’m gonna have to justify that statement with nothing more than personal observation.
For instance, I live on Kansas City’s Westside, which is a typical Latino enclave that’s now been both blessed and cursed with a new gentry of residents who are too scared to live around Black people but obviously feel less threatened by folks of Mexican descent. Anyhoo, in the past five years I’ve noticed an influx of fancy chicken coops in these neighborhoods that are nicer than some of the first structures put together by Westside Housing – A federally assisted home buyer program.
Seriously, these chicken structures have lights, walkways and most of them really look like little loft apartments.
The new breed of urban chicken farmers lovingly take care of their animals to a ridiculous extent.
And while chicken love sounds nice (not really), I can’t help but feel that something’s missing. That something is the specter of death that usually goes along with farm life.
Now, I’ve mostly been an urban dweller but I was lucky to spend a few days a year during my youth on a farm and garner a glance at how a "home-style" chicken is really prepared. Yes, I’m talking about killing chickens.
More than anything, the casualness of chicken killing is what often shocks youngsters.
When I first saw a chicken slaughtered and prepared for a meal, the "chef" didn’t even bother using a knife and simply pulled the chickens head right off and moved quickly to removing the tougher skin and feathers. And while I haven’t been looking closely, I’m guessing that urban chicken farmers are mostly about keeping the eggs — And I guess that’s nice but how many gourmet omelets can an urban farmer eat?
So, I guess my arguement is that chickens are simply too delicious to keep as pets. While it’s important to follow City Regulations, I guess it’s just easier to respect hipsters who keep cats and then make funny online comments.
Keeping chickens in the urban core simply seems like a self-indulgent waste of time.