If you’ve looked at the CLUCK Facebook page lately, you might have seen some very cool, but totally impractical chicken coops and, believe it or not, fashion photos of chickens adorned in jewelry.
You might have wondered, “what are these people thinking?” No, we haven’t started buying tiaras for our hens, and our chicken coop at home doesn’t look anything like the ones in Modern Farmer. But, unlike many of our down-to-earth chicken-keeping friends, we’re not horrified by the glorification of the hen. (Although our chickens probably are!)
In fact, we’re tickled (if a little ambivalent) that the hipsters and fashionistas have discovered chickens. Not because we think chickens need to be glorified; they’re fabulous enough just as they are. Rather, it’s because we tend to think of chickens as an important part of the sustainable food and sustainable farming movement. And they are kind of a gateway animal – the poster pullet if you will – for a different way of thinking about animals of all sorts.
Keeping chickens makes people much more sensitive to the abominable conditions under which most “farm” animals exist. (Which is why the poultry industry would like to kill off backyard chickens – it’s not because backyard egg production is any big competitive threat.) So even crazy, over-the-top art and design that shows chickens as individuals with their own personalities can serve a useful consciousness-raising purpose.
We also love modernist design and we applaud these coop designers for their imagination and willingness to confer design icon status on the lowly hen. There is something about a chicken coop that inspires creativity.
Unfortunately, like these coops, many of the most “creative” endeavors we have seen turn out to be failures in a practical sense. But if you have to build something impractical but beautiful, a chicken coop offers a relatively inexpensive, low-risk palette on which to work out your creative urges.