As part of her effort to live off the land as much as she can, Ruth Harrigan ’87 keeps four chickens in her backyard.
“My kids asked for a dog; I got them chickens,” she explains.
She buys one-day-old chicks from a farm in Ohio; they only cost $2 each, but it’s an extra $35 to ship them via a special USPS carrier who deals only in livestock. Local farms also sell chicks, but they don’t guarantee the sex–and New Yorkers are only allowed female chickens. She’s willing to pay extra to avoid a Moses scenario.
As opposed to bees, which can be tricky to take care of, chickens are a breeze. They’re gentle and they live off food scraps–watermelon rinds are a delicacy, apparently.
Chickens are also great for gardens. They scratch at the ground all day, aerating the soil, and they eat the grubs that prevent things from growing.
Not to mention that each chicken produces an egg every day or every other day. The eggs are tastier than your typical supermarket variety.
“The white, normally slippery, is textured,” she says. “The yolk is bright orange. Even the local eggs I buy aren’t this orange.”
These eggs sure get eaten: Harrigan has four kids. Plus a cat, who (surprise!) gets along with the chickens just fine.
“All my friends want chickens now because of me,” Harrigan boasts. “Not that I’m pushing it or anything.”