Joanna lives in Old Town.The Spice House, Old Town (photo by Kymberly Janisch, via Flickr)
Old Town is hard because I like to escape to a place that was different from the society that I was in at work, and now I’m still in that whole world. It feels kind of funny to be in such a financial and greedy environment all day long, and then feel like I’m still there when I come home. I don’t like that. I’m not interested in that. It’s not my intention to become a cajillionaire and work the system and find little nuances where I can make every dime and penny that I possibly can. That’s not something that’s interesting to me, but that sort of consumerism and greed seems pretty present in Old Town. On the other hand, it’s beautiful and it’s really pleasant. So I don’t like that all of my neighbors are white and wealthy, but they make things look really pretty.
I got chicks in March. I have chickens now in my backyard. I’m raising them for eggs. I got them as one-day-old chicks. In the mail. The postman called me and said, Are you home? I could hear the chicks chirping in the background. [Laughs.] It was hilarious. He was like, Are you home, I’ve got this loud box of squawking chicks. He sounded like he had done that before.
The perfect broiler is like three to six months old, right now they’re four. I wanna see some eggs, and they haven’t laid yet. They will lay for about four years and they will lay one egg a day, so I’ll have 28 eggs a week. I’ll be selling them for $3 a dozen [laughs]. A little income on the side. I have one that will lay green and blue and sometimes pink eggs. I’ll have brown and colored eggs. I’ve never slaughtered anything in my life. I have no idea how I’m gonna do it [laughs] but I’ll make it work. My boyfriend’s convinced that he’ll be called in to do it, but I will do it myself. I have named them. People say that you should not name them if you plan to kill them, but I named them chicken dishes purposefully so that they know their place: Tandoori, Paprikash, Tetrazzini and Pollo.
I bought a pre-fab coop, and they have an indoor space that I sort of close them up in at night. There’s an outdoor area that is all caged in, even on the bottom so that the city rats can’t sneak in and kill them at night. They’re delighted. I thought my neighbors would be a little bit uncomfortable with it, but there are dogs that are in there and there are people that are down in that patio quite often and the dogs don’t bark at them, the people just kind of look at them as they’re poking around. People will ask me, How are the chickens doing? But no one really seems to be bothered. The birds in the trees make more noise. So people have been really receptive to it. My boss grew up in Wisconsin and still has dreams about buying farmland. He has already volunteered to take care of them when I’m on vacation.
My mom always had a pretty big garden and she didn’t grow up on a farm but all of her cousins did. She grew up in northern Minnesota, so it was all around her. My parents compost and were kind of hippies, so to me this feels like, This is how I was raised.
The point of it all is, it’s surprising to me that this big city is just a bunch of hicks. We really are. I have been absolutely stunned at how many people had chickens in their past. I’ll say, Oh I have chickens. And they’re like, Oh my family used to have chickens. Or, My aunt used to have chickens. We’re all just a town of farmers is what it seems. Chicago is just kind of a bunch of hick farmers posing as city kids.