I feel like it’s long overdue for me to write a post that answers the why and the how and the HUH? of Drinking with Chickens. Pretty consistently, I get lots and lots and lots of well-intended questions via the social medias (many of which I have attempted to answer in our FAQ section). And, if I’m being honest, some not-so-well-intentioned. I see you. I hear you. I understand your confusion, because I, myself, am also confused. So, after a few steeling gulps of my current glass of rosé, I will attempt to address your concerns like the professional that I am.
Let me start by explaining how this whole thing really got started in the first place. We dove into the backyard chickening thing not long after we moved into this house (this 110+ year old house that had to undergo a huge, long beast of a renovation). Essentially, once the yard was cleared (it was overgrown and full of trash when we bought the property) and minimally landscaped, we added chickens to the mix. I had it in my head I was going to be Little Miss Urban Homesteader 2010; have chickens for fresh eggs, grow my own produce (and flowers), and try to be as self-sustainable as possible on our little city lot. I like to tell people I got chickens just so I could put fresh egg whites in my cocktails BUT THAT IS A BALD FACED LIE. Spinning yarns is a fun hobby. Really, we got them as part of that whole initial homesteading kick (but also because I had always wanted them when I was a kid, and though we had every OTHER type of pet growing up, we weirdly never had chickens. So this is my parents’ fault. 100%.). The cocktails came after. So there you go: the answer to the age old question: the chickens came first.
There’s a funny thing that happens when you get chickens, and pretty much all backyard chicken-keepers will attest to this: you start spending an inordinate amount of time sitting and watching them. It’s rather Zen. They’re fascinating and they’re funny, and I can’t really explain it, cuz it’s kind of a sickness, but you just wind up hanging out and staring at them like a total psychopath. So natch, I started incorporating a cocktail into this scenario. I mean—it’s pretty pleasant to sit in the garden in the evening, with a freshly made cocktail (remember how I was trying to grow my own food? Yeah, it quickly turned into only growing cocktail ingredients), your feet up, watching these ridiculous birds chickening about. It became an inside joke between my husband and I—whenever we were having a bad day, we’d lament about how we just wanted to home drinking with the chickens.
And there you have it. I decided I wanted to start a blog about it. My husband begged me not to—he thought no one would get it, and that GASP!, people would think I was kinda weird. And TBH, a lot of people do not get it (it’s okay, head pat, head pat). But the surprising thing was that: WE WERE NOT THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO DO THIS. I was just the first one to really publicly fly the flag.
So that is what “Drinking with Chickens” normally looks like for me: my butt in a lounge chair, feet up, with a pretty little cocktail, or a glass of wine, while the chickens peck about the garden around me. And this is what I am encouraging in my noble quest to bring “Drinking with Chickens” to the masses. Hang out in the garden with your favorite beverage (doesn’t have to be boozy!), and spend happy hour with the birds. Or the goats. Or the dogs. Or maybe even some humans. It’s kind of just about embracing whatever happy hour makes you happiest.
But let’s be clear here: PLEASE BE RESPONSIBLE.
Firstly, and I cannot stress this loud enough, do NOT feed your chickens or your pets alcohol. That is not what this is about. It is terrible for them, and it makes me sick to my stomach that anyone would do that in an attempt to be funny. It’s not. It’s just not.
Secondly, it is extremely important to be very cautious with your sanitary practices and boundaries when you are drinking with chickens. Chickens should not come into contact with food prep surfaces, tools, glassware, ingredients, and most importantly, HANDS, while you are drinking, because they are inherently filthy animals. If a bird accidentally comes into contact with your beverage—you should not drink it. No exceptions. I take a lot of artistic liberties with my social media presentation, showing highly staged images where birds are standing near or even sometimes snatching the garnish off the rim of a cocktail glass. Make no mistake about it: these are prop beverages and are not being consumed. DO NOT LET YOUR BIRDS NEAR YOUR DRINK. EVER. I realize this is a little bit “do as I say, not as I do”, but JUST BE GODDAMNED CAREFUL!
On a related note: Poop. Probably the most commonly asked-about topic. Chickens poop. A lot. But I don’t feel like I need to be drawing a lot of attention to this BECAUSE THIS IS A COCKTAIL BLOG and I don’t really want to talk about poop whilst trying to convince people to make my cocktails. But let’s suffice it to say, it happens. A lot. All the time. All day long. And this is why, if you are going to drink with your chickens, you should probably not be handling them at the same time, and definitely not be letting them run amok on your drink surfaces. Let them chicken around on the ground and fertilize things. It’s what they do best. I get a lot of borderline hostile questions about why there isn’t shit covering every surface of my house. The answer is simple: I CLEAN IT THE HELL UP. In fact, I’m overly concerned with cleanliness (because, again, DRINKING WITH CHICKENS. Gotta keep it sanitary.) So when it happens somewhere that I don’t want it to (for example, the outdoor white sofa that everyone is real damned concerned about and I get lots of messages about how I could let them be on it and why isn’t it covered in poop?!!! WHY?!!!), I clean it up and sanitize immediately. Also effective: not letting them be ON said white sofa except for brief little 5-10 minute visits. They ain’t hanging out on that sofa for long stretches of time. Furthermore, I spend a great deal of time cleaning up the chicken yard and running a tight ship—I live on a small piece of property, very close to my neighbors, and I think this is one of the most important aspects of keeping chickens in the city. You have got to be a little more vigilant about the sanitation, IMO, than if you live way out on a big piece of property in the country.
And for the record, I hate being asked about poop. Most of the time, the underlying implication is that I’m not “being real” enough—by either cleaning it up real quick so I don’t show it, or by photoshopping it out. But THE REAL scenario is that I AM, INDEED, CLEANING IT UP BECAUSE IT IS POOP AND IT NEEDS TO BE CLEANED UP. Why do I need to be showing it in photos? There is no more direct route to the dark side of my heart than asking me why there’s no chicken shit in my photos.
This whole Drinking with Chickens thing was really just about me sort of poking fun at myself—that this was and is my odd little hobby. At the same time—it’s my little homage to these silly, wonderful creatures that have no idea how much brightness they bring to my life. Furthermore, it makes me happy beyond words that, A) not only do other people ALSO already do this, but 2) people who are being introduced to it through this platform are actually embracing and having fun with it. You don’t actually have to even own chickens—once you start being aware of them, it’s amazing how many vineyards and breweries and even restaurants have embraced keeping chickens as part of their biodynamic farm-to-table/farm-to-glass process (chickens can significantly help with kitchen/produce waste—they are little compost machines, gobbling up green waste and turning it into a fabulous natural fertilizer OH WE TALKING ABOUT POOP AGAIN). Not to mention all the places where they run wild in the world; where you can literally be sitting at a bar drinking your drink, and a random chicken cruises by. THIS FILLS MY HEART WITH JOY. So much joy.
And I LOOOOOOOVE seeing the photos that people post with the #drinkingwithchickens hashtag. I share my favorites from time to time on my IG stories, and I’d like to have them come over and have a more permanent home on a gallery here on the site. I’ll get to that soon, I promise!
So there you have it. CHICKENS. Go forth, my friends, and drink with them.
That is all.