Monday, June 29, 2009

Urban Chickens and Other Helpful Hints for the Apocalypse

It seems that a few of the more recent generations, us city-dwelling 20 and 30 somethings are subconsciously preparing for the upcoming apocalypse. We're choosing to start families later and later in life, or not at all - 'cause what's the point of procreation anyway? We act like we're immortal carefree 20 year olds well into our 30's. We rack up record breaking credit card debt like there will literally be no tomorrow - at least some day in the not too distant future. And I've noticed quite a few of us have an inexplicable draw towards animal husbandry despite having little or no exposure to farm life. There is clearly only one explanation for these odd decisions and desires - preparation for the upcoming apocalypse.

But, there are a few things you should know before you set up your urban livestock accommodations.

When life as we know it ends, I'm thinking city populations will be greatly reduced, leaving lots of space and resources for us survivors and the mutinous monsters that may or may not have killed off everyone else. The blood lusty mutants are a real variable here, but I'm just going to proceed like the survivors have figured out a way to deal with them. Counter measures could include creating a barrier around your property with human pee or hanging garlic everywhere or throwing water on intruding mutants/miscreants or something. It's really hard to prepare for murderous flesh hungry mutants, but given our society's obsession with end of the world scenarios, I'm pretty confident that won't be our biggest problem.

What will be a huge problem is procuring food and the variety of said food. Assuming there isn't much soil contamination (like near the missile impact site or volcano eruption), we'll be able to grow veggies. And assuming there are few animals after the initial earth changing event, we can totally make more animals! Cows are too big. Pigs are way too crafty. Goats are a good choice, but I didn't visit goats today for my research - I visited city chickens; the perfect source of protein and companionship.

So, here are some helpful hints for you to commit to memory...just in case.

1. Chickens don't need fancy accommodations. As long as you've got some caging (like from a construction site or animal research lab) and spare wood or plastic (from all the collapsed buildings), you can pretty much make your ladies a nice house. They're not picky, contrary to all those old cartoons with that one really horny rooster. Unfortunately, they don't always get along - so multiple hen shacks might need to be created to keep the peace. Women.

2. Chickens are vocal and not Gonzo's girlfriend vocal. These ladies make way more sounds that just the classic "balk, balk". They make low rumbling sounds, coos and grunts. Most of these sounds translate to "Where's the food?", "Do you have food?", "I hear that there are worms here. Worms are food." Despite having very sophisticated social structures - they are not good conversationalists. This is really bad news if you are a sole survivor, of course.

3. Chickens don't need a rooster to benefit you. Your ladies will leave you precious and portable little packs of protein without that early rising rooster. This means that you won't disturb your undead neighbors or attract the attention of that roving band of cannibals, which is a big plus. Chickens just need to be relatively happy to lay eggs. This might require a lot of lying on your part. I suggest the following statements: "Hey chickens, here's your feed. Don't worry, it's totally not just ground up rat bones." or "Hi sweet ladies, one egg today. Oh, how nice of the six of you to get us something. Hey, brown one, wanna come see this really cool tree stump on the other side of the yard just out of view from your shack...I mean hen house?"

4. This one is a little sensitive. Chickens stink. But, I'm thinking that post-apocalyptic life will be much smellier on a daily basis, so this may or may not be an issue. I would not recommend living with them inside of your makeshift dwelling or retro-fitted bank vault - whatever zombie proof home you make. They will really smell up a small space.

5. Chickens may surprise you. I've heard of one hen taking a hit from a hawk as she lay over her young chicks to protect them. Self sacrifice is clearly not part of the fight or flight scenario. I'm not saying your chickens will definitely help in a cannibal or vampire attack, but if you're good to them, there's no telling what your ladies will do for you in a fight.