I dream of having one of those luxury children's playhouses built in my yard, you know the sort, with turrets and balconies, window boxes filled with bright flowers and bougainvillea climbing up the front like you see in Tuscany. The inside would have vaulted ceilings with beams, electricity and working fireplaces, and a banister like the one in Wuthering Heights...and then I realize- Chickens don't need a banister.
You didn't think it was for actual children did you? Are you mad? It's for my pet chickens. That's right my chickens.
The thing is, I don’t live on a farm. I never did watch "Green Acres," and I would probably push Laura Ingalls and her gingham dresses down a hill, have an affair with Pa, and leave him the first time he cried over a sunset.
I am a single woman living in Los Angeles who loves five star hotels, Louboutin heels and men who look like Oliver Reed. And I have 6 chickens. I share my life with parrots and cats and dogs and my chickens. When people ask me if I have pets, sometimes I leave the chickens out because the look on their faces tends to make me feel like someone who has escaped the asylum.
When people are holding a dog that resembles a rat and reply “You have chickens?” with their nose all wrinkled up, I want to shout “Really, does your teeny tiny dog do anything for you? Does he have a job?” My chickens do -- they are little compost makers for my garden and rid it of bugs.
It all started when I was planning my herb garden. I was looking for rare herbs for it, like some form of variegated chocolate mint that only grows by the hands of Tibetan monks in the 3rd month of Spring during a full moon. I found a nursery in an old Historical home 20 minutes outside of L.A. and when I got there, running amid the fountains and gardens, were the most itty bitty fluff ball chickens I had ever seen.
And from that moment on, the seed was planted. My garden would never be complete without chickens. I remember the argument with my family.
"Frida Kahlo had a monkey....George Clooney had a pig, there is no reason on earth I should not have chickens." Seriously, that was my argument.
I told myself my garden would be organic and pesticide-free, but the truth is the very idea of small fluffy spotted hens filled me with the same intense joy I had once seeing Giuseppe Zanotti corset heels.
My sister later sent me an article from a fashion magazine with a woman with chickens in a gown with a Post-it on it that said "I thought of you." What it should have said is “I like to tell people my sister is insane.” But the picture really stuck with me, like one day I could be a crazy old dame with chandelier earrings feeding my chickens in an evening gown, and over my mantle would be an oil painting of me doing just that. I could really be one half Audrey Hepburn, one half scary old Socialite, regal and yet off her rocker with chickens on her lap.
And nowadays, everyone and their sister jumped on the chicken bandwagon. Everyone is all about sustainable gardens and composting and grows organic vegetables, and you can't flip through any sort of home or fashion magazine without running into a socialite with dirt on her hands. There are websites devoted to urban chickens and plans for designer chicken coops.
But I will have you know I was a maverick. I was the girl in the early 90s at Viper Room where people would say things like “Slash, come over here, no really, this chick has pet chickens!" I mean I am sure they probably thought I used them in an adult act but sorry to bore you, they just walk around my herb gardens looking for snails.
My chickens keep me in one place. You can't own chickens and be a drifter. You try boarding hens, it can’t be done. Can’t. You want to make a man stay home? Buy him a chicken. He has to return every night at dusk to lock it up so predators don’t eat it. I just solved your straying husband problem, you’re welcome.
Owning chickens did not make me vegan...although I have a really hard time watching people gnaw on drumsticks knowing those are the same legs that prance around my garden. I see drumsticks doing the disembodied Can-Can. I may care, but chickens do not. They will eat their own eggs, they will eat pieces of cooked chicken, they are shameless cannibals and heartless thieves.
I have pet chickens, yet I wear feathers. It’s not like I pluck theirs out or anything, but still, origin wise, these belonged to birds. Ask Roberto Cavalli, not me.
But then, I'm not your typical animal person. Most people who love animals cruise up and down the cat food aisle with a sweatshirt that says HAVE A PURRFECT DAY in glittery letters. Animal people wear khakis...The only thing khaki I own is green eye shadow. Animal people have Dorothy Hamill hairdos. I just have a lot of male friends who are friends of Dorothy.
Also, animal people wear fanny packs and volunteer at Petco. I carry bags made of animals and only volunteer if there is a cool black-tie party involved with champagne. So how can I love animals so much and yet really have nothing in common with the people who adore them, too?
And how do I meet a guy who adores animals like I do and doesn’t wear khaki shorts, and will accept the fact I don’t want to wear flat shoes ever and kiss my chickens and never mistake Buttercup for Marigold and never once utter the words “Do you think we have too many?"
Otherwise I'll be like, “Yes, one too many: you. There’s the door, darling.”