Once or twice a week, friends and neighbors will show up at our back door with a carton of "extra" eggs. These eggs do not come from free-range chickens. They come from the out-in-the-front-yard, car-dodging, yard-pecking, chase-you-around-the-lawn chickens that everybody with a driveway-sized plot of land seems to be raising at the moment.
Living in small towns and on five-acre ranches has never seemed so Green Acre-ish. And why not? It's almost cheaper to buy a dozen chicks than a dozen eggs.
And with the chickens come the eggs. Sue and I have gone through about every egg recipe we have ever heard of, and many we haven't, and we still have eggs left over.
This was never a problem when we lived in the city. No one ever dropped by 14th Street to give us their extra eggs, piling up our mudroom with cartons. Of course, we didn't have a mudroom. When I told one city friend our mudroom was getting full he said, "You have an entire room for mud? Must be nice." I forgot he lives in a fourth-floor walk-up studio apartment smaller than our living room that has a view of a brick wall. But it's only $3,000 a month plus utilities.
Am I worried about my cholesterol by eating so many eggs? Compared to what? Bacon? Sausage? Nachos? Cream cheese? Hot dogs? Hamburgers? Pizza? I think the "egg vs. cholesterol" controversy ship sailed a long time ago. Besides, if you want to sell something, the best way to get people to buy it is to tell people it's bad for them.
But a more interesting question is, why are so many people raising chickens? Is it about money or a lifestyle or both?
I see everything at the grocery store getting more expensive -- I recently paid $1.69 for one good-sized apple and $3.85 for a gallon of gas. But according to the latest government report, our core inflation rate is not rising. Of course, as they have for many years, they don't count food and gas, the two main things that are rising. Well, why stop there? If they're not going to count food and gas, they may as well not count rent, tuition, doctor's bills, cable TV, utilities and clothes. Inflation could be eliminated.
Is the chicken trend so big because we long for days gone by, when life was simpler, when people were more connected to the land, when neighbors did things for each other? If you want that good old-fashioned connection, there's an app for that. All you have to do is download Poultry Pal from an app store near you.
But I do wonder what's next. I know people are putting beehives in their backyards and on their rooftops. But what happens when your next-door neighbor wants to raise his own sheep? Or cows? I guess it would depend on whether they're dropping by with "extra" beef.
Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.