Author Topic: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens  (Read 2796 times)

Tass

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The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« on: March 13, 2018, 12:42:32 PM »
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/02/feature/the-silicon-valley-elites-latest-status-symbol-chickens/?utm_term=.c0b46eb4ad76

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“Being able to say you have chickens says, ‘I have a back yard,’ and having a back yard says, ‘I have space.’ And having space means you have money, especially when it comes to Silicon Valley real estate.”

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Instead of cobbling together a plywood coop with materials from the local hardware store, the rare birds of Silicon Valley are hiring contractors to build $20,000 coops using reclaimed materials or pricey redwood that matches their human homes. Others opt for a Williams-Sonoma coop — chemical free and made from sustainable red pine — that has been called the “Range Rover of chicken cribs.” Coops are also outfitted with solar panels, automated doors and electrical lighting — as well as video cameras that allow owners to check on their beloved birds remotely.

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“We spend an insane amount of money. We thought we’d feed them leftovers, but our chickens end up eating grilled salmon, steak, fresh lettuce and organic watermelon.”

I've often wondered whether the seeming charm of keeping chickens was merely a distance effect - because I'm not doing it, I'm overlooking the amount of work involved. But apparently it's now a rich person pasttime!

Reading the article, it seems like it is genuinely a worthwhile hobby for a lot of these people, getting them to spend time outside and with their families and away from a screen, even if they're pursuing it in a comically excessive way. But the work environments that result in that desperate craving for literally anything natural leave a lot to be desired. Even if they pay you enough to keep eight Alexas in your home.


TrMama

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2018, 02:02:30 PM »
On a financial note, I wonder if fancy chickens will go speculative like the alpaca bubble of the early 2000's or the ostrich bubble in the 90's?

https://priceonomics.com/when-the-great-alpaca-bubble-burst/
https://www.producer.com/1997/12/ostrich-bubble-bursts-dont-expect-quick-riches/

msilenus

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 02:13:54 PM »
I live in Silicon Valley, but I guess I don't know anyone who's really elite.  I believe it though.  A few years ago Zuckerberg did a life experiment where he only ate meat that he killed himself.  I wouldn't be surprised if his example kicked off an interest in suburban backyard farming.

BTW: if you have a lawn, you're not above this sort of thing.  Lawns are another culture-bound status declaration that's tied up in resources associated with ownership and maintenance.  It's just that the origins of lawns are so far in the Western World's past that we don't think of that, and the costs associated have come down enough that they're a middle-class trapping instead of a noble one.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 02:15:39 PM by msilenus »

Tass

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 03:08:11 PM »
BTW: if you have a lawn, you're not above this sort of thing.  Lawns are another culture-bound status declaration that's tied up in resources associated with ownership and maintenance.  It's just that the origins of lawns are so far in the Western World's past that we don't think of that, and the costs associated have come down enough that they're a middle-class trapping instead of a noble one.

Great point! Personally I live in an apartment so I have not committed this particular hypocrisy, but I'm sure there are many other aspects of middle-class life that we don't even realize are ultimately status symbols.

Also, many people in SoCal have realized that the maintenance of a lawn in a desert is ridiculous. Not all... but many.

Just Joe

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 03:45:23 PM »
I can't imagine that small lot neighborhoods would put up with the noise chickens make.

We have one neighbor who converted a garage into a room for their birds and another that has chickens/rooster. We hear both of them from time to time and we are a fair distance away.

Multi-millionaires complaining about their neighbor's farm animal noises and odors....

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 04:53:57 PM »
On a financial note, I wonder if fancy chickens will go speculative like the alpaca bubble of the early 2000's or the ostrich bubble in the 90's?

https://priceonomics.com/when-the-great-alpaca-bubble-burst/
https://www.producer.com/1997/12/ostrich-bubble-bursts-dont-expect-quick-riches/

That actually happened to fertilized Cocoa Marans eggs in the 2008/2009 time frame. Ultra-dark egg layers became trendy. The trouble with those birds is that they lay very few eggs. People who were buying them for the speculative value (hatching, breeding, etc.) got a rude surprise.

One of my uncles got caught in the ostrich bubble, and the buffalo bubble prior to that. I learned from his experience, waited until after the bubble burst, and picked up a Marans pullet for the same price as any other egg layer. Productivity-wise she hasn't been much-- Marans birds never are since they weren't bred for heavy egg production-- but she's given me no trouble at all, and the eggs are indeed fun. I also have green egg layers, occasionally blue egg layers, and pink and light brown egg layers.

Turnbull

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 06:47:54 PM »
I can't imagine that small lot neighborhoods would put up with the noise chickens make.

We have one neighbor who converted a garage into a room for their birds and another that has chickens/rooster. We hear both of them from time to time and we are a fair distance away.

Multi-millionaires complaining about their neighbor's farm animal noises and odors....

Only roosters make any significant noise. Hens are pretty quiet in general. I can't imagine anyone would complain that hens were too noisy.

Just Joe

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2018, 08:19:13 AM »
I don't know anything about birds. One house has exotic birds. The other poultry. Collectively we can hear them occasionally but never a bother to us.

Imagine a wealthy CA bird lover living near a wealthy (powerful) CA person with picky attitudes about pet birds. Oh - the potential drama between the millionaires.

The funny thing is that when we walk past the house here with the exotic birds on a warm day occasionally the garage windows will be open (with screens) and one of the bird will speak to us. The first few times we had a "who said that" moment until we got it. 

Dicey

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Re: The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2018, 08:44:26 AM »
BTW: if you have a lawn, you're not above this sort of thing.  Lawns are another culture-bound status declaration that's tied up in resources associated with ownership and maintenance.  It's just that the origins of lawns are so far in the Western World's past that we don't think of that, and the costs associated have come down enough that they're a middle-class trapping instead of a noble one.
So true! We've let our lawn go. We replaced it with slate chips, which are lovely and cost a fraction of what other rock does. We also own rentals in the SoCal  Desert. None of them have grass, but some neighbors do, ugh. We're always searching for our next property and if a listing has grass, it's an automatic no.

Hens are fine, it's roosters that are a pain in the ass.