Valentine’s Day arrives. You stand in the aisle of another big box store, staring at the mind-numbing array of available gift options. You want this gift to matter. You want to show that you care, that you’re committed and that you’re dedicated.
Will a couple dozen roses create this effect? Will chocolate? Conversation Hearts? A card? Nope.
You know what will? A couple dozen chicks.
Buy your Valentine a couple dozen chicks. And by chicks, I don’t mean potential romantic partners. I mean baby chickens, of the broiler variety. (“Broiler” being a colloquialism for birds whose destiny lies in a roasting pan.)
Your Valentine will be so surprised.
If a relationship can’t hold it together for the eight measly weeks necessary to raise a batch of broiler chickens, what do you think that means for the rest of the relationship? Not fried chicken, I assure you.
And as the saying goes, couples who raise chickens together, stay together.
Maybe this is why I’m single.
Like relationships, raising broiler chickens begins passionately — full of idealism and potential. Spend hours staring in wonder at the present beauty in your sweetheart or, as it may be, a chick.
The chicks, like your relationship, last in this adorable stage for about a week. Then, things change rather quickly.
Pin feathers poke through their pale skin, and adolescence hits these birds hard. They retain some of their initial cuteness, but the writing is on the wall, er, chicken skin: These are chicks no longer.
The chickens become eating machines. Their appetite for grain, like the love you feel for your sweetheart, knows no limits.
In this tender, loving time for both chickens and relationships, it’s important not to forget the basics. Bed the sleeping areas with soft and clean materials. Stay hydrated. Eat a balanced diet. Supplement with minerals. Nap often.
Exercise should not be neglected either. Some couples lift together. Some run. This year, use all that lifting, pulling and sweating that normally goes for naught and employ it towards the utility of pulling chicken tractors.
Chicken tractors are mobile chicken coops that are dragged to a new section of grass each day. Generally, they’re constructed of tin siding, chicken wire and two-by-fours. These are heavy suckers.
The daily fresh sections of grass will bring your meat birds some small amount of avian joy. The daily skidding of chicken tractors will get you and your sweetheart ripped by the end of eight weeks. Take your sweetheart out to the broiler chicken field — it’s time to get fit.
After eight weeks, your broilers will have pastured to plumpness. All good things must come to an end, though, and some ends just come quicker than others. It’s time to confront mortality.
Slaughter day will come. You might view this day with sadness. Fine. I don’t know anyone who views it with felicity. It’s a difficult but necessary course of events.
If you’ve survived the daily feeding, watering, tractor-dragging and predator deterrence, don’t let this one day’s tough work break the relationship. Do the work that needs to be done.
As you set about eviscerating the birds with your sweetheart, don’t forget to save the livers — they make a delicious pâté.
Have you ever seen a chicken liver? They’re gorgeous. They sit in your palm, glistening in a deep, vital red. All Valentine’s Day cards should be the color of chicken livers. Nothing says “I love you” like a chicken liver.
At its most fundamental, raising chickens demands investing in a life not your own. It requires you sacrifice some of your own wants for another being’s needs. It requires you be present when it’s time to make tough decisions.
I’ve raised broiler chickens since I was five years old. While I can’t claim this practice has resulted in extravagant romantic success, I can claim it has prepared me well for such an event’s occurrence.
To my future sweetheart, wherever you might be: I set up the brooder in the kitchen. The grain is in the garage. I’m ready when you are.