Photo by thomas pix/FlickrCC
In the early part of the twentieth century, my grandmother had chickens pecking around her farm house at her tenant cotton farm. She loved them. My mother, her daughter, in the antiseptic 1950s--our dog and cat were not allowed in the house--out of nostalgia perhaps, allowed us kids a trio of brightly colored Leghorn chicks for Easter. As they shed their dyed fuzzy feathers (green, pink and purple), they grew up to be roosters, and since we were not the "killing kind," preferring grocery-store chicken corpses, my brother and I had to cart the three young cocks down the caliche road to the neighbor lady, who wasted no time in prepping a meal of tasty fried chicken. With us watching in silent horror, she stood on our pets' wings and chopped their heads off with a hatchet. Headless, the rooster bodies ran in a dusty circle until they dropped from deathly exhaustion. I disliked her for the rest of my childhood.
As an adult, I became a throwback to my grandmother and acquired my first flock of hens in 1982. I've had chickens ever since, chickens with names (many share group names), and I now prefer them to other types of pets (they don't need to sleep with you). My flock numbers between 60 and 100 at various times, and always, several of these hens will be so smart and personable that they become special pets. Lately, my flock, through old-age attrition, is on the small end of that scale, and I need to replenish it, but, alas, chicks are getting hard to come by in Austin. Our local feed store, Callahan's General Store, now sells out of a thousand chicks a week, as there is a "boom" in interest in backyard chicken flocks. At least in Austin.