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VICIOUS CHICKEN KILLERS AND READER SUPPORT
We have egg-laying chickens at our set of New Brunswick, NJ community gardens. We give most of these tasty, deeply orange-yolked eggs to gardeners who perform extra tasks to keep our sizable common areas looking good. I also pass, to non-gardeners/strangers, some free eggs between strands of barbed wire atop the six-foot-high chain-link fence that separates our garden from a park in a low-income neighborhood where characteristically urban stuff occurs. Several times/week, I go to the park to maintain the city’s separate gardens there, or to play basketball.
Two days ago, we had 21 chickens. These included five new, ten-week-old chickens that I just bought with Substack subscription-derived funds. The new ones, called pullets, were half the size of the hens and were cute, still growing and had bright, egg-laying futures. Laying takes up only a small part of hens’ days. We let them roam, eat grass, bugs and worms. and scratch and luxuriate in the dirt. They love doing all that.
This morning, when I arrived in the rain, I found all five pullets dead, their throats cut. I had found another massacre the morning before. Four of our full-size laying hens had their heads severed. A day before that, I had given away one four-year old—beyond laying age—chicken to one of our gardeners, who made soup from it. This is part of normal flock management. There are four times as many chickens, than humans, on Earth. And the average commercial broiler chicken lives six weeks. Four years is a comparatively long chicken life.
Hence, today, we have only eleven chickens, ten fewer than we did two days earlier. The sudden loss of nine layers—current and near future—sucks eggs. They weren’t killed for food. They were slaughtered and beheaded gratuitously, for bloodlust.
I again offer sincere thanks to all those who have supported my work by pledging recently. I was pleased to use some of that money to buy the pullets that were just killed. Now I’ll have to replace them and I have the funds to do that. But it still bothers me that, after seven years without any hen killings, we lost half of our flock in two nights. I feel bad for the hens and pullets who died prematurely. They missed out on eating so many bugs and laying in so much dirt. Living large.
Yesterday, I also thought about providing free Substack content. When I wrote last week about continuing to make posts available free to non-supporters, one reader responded that a “A free press must be free.”
This commenter probably thought that, by turning a phrase, he was saying something clever and true. But pop singers turn phrases all the time. Anyone who takes advice from pop lyrics will live dysfunctionally and miserably, especially in their love lives. Some of the rap I hear coming from the park also contains some messages that would be much better ignored; only these messages are too loud, angry and profane to ignore. Just because something feels good to say doesn’t mean it expresses wisdom.
The “free press” comment, and the sense of entitlement it reflected, bothered me. I feel driven to write about Coronamania; it’s been a terrible scam and those of us who saw this shouldn’t “just let it go.” But intrinsic motivation aside, writing takes work, and constructive work deserves respect. Former Treasury Secretary William Simon said, “Americans cast billions of votes each day and their ballots are dollars.” People should be willing to support, with dollars, what they say they support.
I know that not everyone can afford to support all of the writers whose work they find worth reading. So I’ll strike a balance. I’ll continue to post some stories that are available to all. But sometimes I’ll post for paid subscribers only. It seems fair that those who show their support are treated somewhat better. This is, after all, the USA.
In the same way that I distribute eggs at the gardens, I’ll provide more stories to those who actively support my writing. Given the hours I’ve put in over the past three years, I’ve been working for chickenfeed. Before last week, for even less than that.
I think that those who read my next post, on Friday, will like it. Throughout, I’ve tried to provide readable truth. And will continue to try.
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