Chickens I Have Known

They keep bringing on the hate towards our fine-feathered chicken friends, but my love for pollitos in the city will not be undone. Some white people think keeping chickens makes you a redneck, a signifier of trashiness and general backwardness. Little do they know that these “backward” habits are on the upswing as they make sense to those contemplating the issues related to our food sourcing and those not scared by what the nosy neighbors are gonna think about your own victory garden. For me, chickens and roosters are also great pets. Call me a paisa; cringe at yet another embarrassment to the Chicano people; laugh at my lack of sophistication, I can take it. I know I’ll be laughing, a few years down the line, when some magazine or celebrity deems this good idea acceptable enough for you. I’m sure a bunch of viejitas are laughing at all the people just now getting into knitting.

Pic above: me in the garden with one of my many chickens. Click ahead for even more pics of my trashy upbringing!

A bit blurry but this is the chicken I hatched myself in a light bulb incubator from Toy’s R Us. I was there to see it hatch, thus the pollito was imprinted on me and would follow me wherever I went, even when I was just taking out the trash. And it would also ride along with me on the handlebars of my bike, so long as I didn’t go too fast. One day I fed it too many butterflies, it got sick and died. I found it amongst the fully grown stalks of corn my dad was growing, just to the left of the frame of this pic. Yeah, It was a sad day.

Same yard, many years later. Yup, all grown up and still into chickens. This was one feisty rooster but it knew when to behave. We had a few visits from Animal Control (one of those led to me eating my pets) but I still managed to have some pollitos around, and I’m looking forward to eventually getting some more. It sure beats picking up after a shitting dog.

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14 Responses to Chickens I Have Known

  1. I’ve always wanted to raise chickens, but since I’ve lived in apartments all my life, there is no space whatsoever to have their coops. However, I do aim to have chickens/roosters wherever it is I live, granted I have the space for the coops.

    I know a number of people who would raise and train roosters for me on the condition that I use the rooster for peleas. I’m not down for that because I don’t trust them training my rooster. I want to train him myself and make that money for me.

  2. chimatli says:

    My mom used to have the meanest rooster! She would leave a broom by the front gate to shoo it off, otherwise it would attack you as you walked to the door. Even the local cholos were scared by it. No one even dare tried to steal it. It once attacked a friend of mine and left him with a scar and a permanent bump on his leg. Who needs pitbulls?
    She finally tried to eat the damn thing and said it was so tough, they gave up.

  3. Abbi says:

    I too plan to invest in some chickens when I have space for a coop. My GF worries that they’ll be too noisy (she used to live next to some chickens in Berkeley that drove her nuts), but I think she’ll come around. . .

  4. we had a chicken at one time it lasted about a month and it did get to lay eggs but one day the neighborhood street dog killed it so that was the end of that…
    btw I wish I could see the cute little boy you where under the CHavo mask Lol

  5. P-3000 says:

    pets you can eat! makes sense.

    Seriously, I love hearing the rooster across the street.
    As a kid my friend had a huge coop in his backyard he had to clean before we could ride our bikes. Another friend had a bunch of pigeon on his roof that he looked after as much as you can look after pigeons. Rabbits! dang they shit a lot. Another friend would raise them to eat. Never went over for that meal.

    Does make more sense than a $350 dog who will eat your shoes.

  6. cindylu says:

    I saw my uncle kill a chicken once and use it to make some chicken soup for my sick mom. It was kinda scary.

    My family never had chickens, but we do have neighbors who raise them, they’re Chinese. Sometimes, the rooster gets out and wanders over to our yard. If our dog is out there, he’ll chase after it, once he even got a few feathers. My mom gets made at him.

    I don’t really have anything against roosters or chickens. I don’t even mind the noise, but those late roosters crowing at noon totally bug me.

  7. El Pollo Loco says:

    Over in South L.A., some of the black neighbors complain that they’re trying to sleep and that WAY before wake-up time, these nasty cocks are crowing all up in the hood. I kinda see their point. As much as I like domesticating poultry, it seems
    inconsiderate to the neighbors if they’re not into the noise. Is there a way to muffle themor shut them up? that could be a solution.

  8. tin says:

    i feel you. i also had some chickens growing up. first in mexico, than here in the u.s. yeah, sometimes neighbors would complain about the rooster making too much noise. when we had to move out of our house to an apartment, we asked a family friend to take care of them. than she invited us over for some mole =(

  9. Abbi says:

    I’m happy to report that after I showed this post to my GF (and she shopped for organic cagefree eggs at the Ralph’s in Atlantic Square), she’s caved ont he chicken question! Now all we need is a yard that fits a coop. Huzzah!

  10. Li says:

    Pollitos are already trendy among white upper-class people. Martha Stewart’s magazine features articles on raising chickens and I know at least three white suburbanites with coops in their yards. I guess that’s keeping in line with Edible Estates (sorry to make you retch).

  11. Aleks says:

    I had chickens as a kid as well. We lived on the hillside up on Clifton St. so I built some coops in our back yard and had them for about a year or so. We always had plenty of eggs, but every now and then one of the chickens would end up having chicks and there were way too many to take care of so we started giving them away. Hearing the roosters sing late at night and early in the mornings always was a pleasing sound to me. Now when I hear them it always brings back childhood memories. I wish my kids could experience some of the things I got to do as a kid that were so simple, yet very fulfilling.

  12. la rebelde says:

    My family had chickens when I was young–we used to sell eggs at church. My brother had a prize rooster that he used to train for the county and state fair. One day, some family friends were visiting and their 3-year-old son wandered to the coop to say good-bye to the animals and that rooster leaped at him with his little claws. It went straight for the boy’s eyes! Luckily it missed. We had a good meal that night, though. I stayed away from the gallos after that.

  13. ubrayj02 says:

    I grew up with chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, turkeys, and a bunch of other animals.

    Our neighbors either learned how to love the sound of a hen laying an egg on Sunday morning, or they moved out. When I go to my mom’s house, she always has a bag of eggs for me (if there are any extra).

    If you’re into chickens, take a look at the film “The Natural History of the Chicken”.

    By the way, I grew up in Venice/Mar Vista.

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