Sunday, February 15, 2009

Backyard Poultry

[This week's Haveil Havalim - quite a well-organized edition - is here!]

For those who are looking for more substantive material, please skip to some of my other posts. This one is decidedly of the tabloid variety.

A wonderful relative of mine, who is no doubt concerned that -
(a) We lack for reading material in the Torczyner שירותים, or
(b) Due to the economic crisis and the Agriprocessors scandal we will soon need to raise and schecht our own meat
has blessed our family with a gift subscription to Backyard Poultry.

For those rare souls to whom Backyard Poultry is not as well-known as, say, Women and Golf or Ireland’s Own, the magazine’s masthead explains that it is “Dedicated to more and better small-flock poultry.”

I am an outdoorsy sort; I like to garden, and I would love to have pets that would earn their keep. So I eagerly awaited our first issue – which came yesterday, on Shabbos.

Right after Shabbos ended I sat down to peruse this unanticipated gift, and could not help being taken aback immiedately by the cover story, a feature on Naked Neck Chickens. I thought to myself, “Poultry prurience? He’s sending me photos of chickens in the, um, raw?” (In truth, the pictures were very tastefully done, I must say.)

I must admit that at this point I was sympathetic to the idea of trashing BP in favor of more substantive reading, but I pressed on. Being a member of a tribe with its own share of idiosyncrasies, I knew I should not judge “Backyard Poultry” by its cover.

So I flipped through the pages, passing ads for egg incubators and Hatching Made Easy and articles on Mites in Winter Poultry Houses and Silver-grey Dorkings, thinking this might actually be educational for me, and might even give me new insights into the sugyos (talmudic discussions) related to Bava Basra discussions of שובכות and Chullin discussions of טריפות - Torah uMadda at its best! -until I found this text in a green box on page 23:

We would like to hear from anyone who can identify (1) situations in which chickens or other poultry have communicated or attempted to communicate with humans and (2) situations indicating that chickens or other poultry think or plan into the future.

If you have experiences in either of these situations, please share them with us. Provide as much detail as possible, as well as an e-mail or phone number so we can inquire further in the most efficient manner possible. Photos or other illustrations are also welcome. Your photos will be scanned and returned.

Send your experiences to:, please say “Fowl Comunication” in the subject line, or by standard mail to BYP Fowl Language, 145 Industrial Dr., Medford, WI 54451.

We hope to be able to share future articles on these experiences.

At this point I realized I must put down Backyard Poultry and get back to work. I thank my generous relative for broadening my horizons – and given that the magazine is in its fourth year, there must be a market for horizons this broad - but I was never really one for the chicks, anyway.

Besides, there’s a gemara shiur I need to prepare – and we already finished Maseches Beitzah last month.


  1. Not that I didn't trust your posting, but with a publication this strange I went online to see for myself what it was like. Not only does it exist but scrolling through the latest issue brought me the information that there is a Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities. Took me about an hour to stop laughing. You realize that if my students don't get back all their papers marked tomorrow that it will be all your fault?

  2. Poultry Antiquities... Petrified eggs? Ancient systems for raising chickens? Pterodactyls?
    Glad to provide a diversion for you.

  3. A blog named Rechovot and naked neck chickens and you don't mention



  4. Anonymous-
    Ugh. I would thank you for showing me that, but I'm not really that thankful for it...