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Silicon Valley’s Fowl Fever: Tech, Wealth, and Chickens?

Let’s talk about one of the weirdest, most brilliant places on earth: Silicon Valley. In some strange, yet unsurprising news, Silicon Valley is at it again with outlandish hobbies that showcase a twist of excess that can only be branded as typical Silicon Valley. A place known for some of the greatest technological invention, innovation, and pioneering the world has ever seen, Silicon Valley has always been a gravitational force of oddity. A force that’s exponentially compounded by exorbitant wealth.

When you hop on your computer, most of what you’re doing, not to mention the device itself, involves products of Silicon Valley. Google, a company you’ve probably heard of, owns 60% to 75% of the global search engine market. Beyond that, the tech Big Five (Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft) are currently worth $3 trillion and rising. The collective worth of these companies and the influence they carry is staggering. It’s also made the Valley one of the most valuable housing markets in the United States, populated by the wealthiest residents.

Naturally, these tech gazillionaires need some downtime. In recent years, a surge of hobbies Silicon Valley’s tech elite participates in has swept ordinary onlookers into head scratching curiosity. From zero gravity flight, doomsday prepping (oh yes, that’s a thing), and an expansive list of everything in between, a new hobby has hit the scene: chickens.

The majority of chicken owning Americans have them for agricultural reasons. Eggs not withstanding, Americans eat 90 pounds of chicken every year. Not in Silicon Valley, though. Chickens are considered members of the family, boasting luxurious coups surpassing $20,000, eating steak, salmon, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. Creatures once considered crops are receiving lavish amenities. The attitude of these chicken owners runs an interesting narrative span.

Some find a comforting disconnect from the highly specialized focus of advanced technological jobs: “It’s a fascinating thing to sit and watch the animals because instead of looking at a screen, you’re looking at the life cycle. It’s very different from the abstract work that I do.”

Others scoff at that and use the fowl to boast their financial status. How is this possible, you ask? A woman named Leslie Citroen is a San Francisco Bay Area chicken whisperer (again, yes, that’s a thing) whose whisperings are worth $225 per hour. She’s seen a lot in her chicken whispering career and addresses how chickens are seen as golden eggs: “Because it shouts, ‘These eggs didn’t come from Whole Foods or Walmart — these eggs came from my backyard.’ It’s a total status symbol.”

Her son adds to the point saying, “Being able to say you have chickens says, ‘I have a backyard,’ and having a backyard says, ‘I have space.’ And having space means you have money, especially when it comes to Silicon Valley real estate.”

That’s the subtle status brag. Chicken swag and luxuries are the real rub that show how much people are willing to spend on their feathered family members. While most human beings expect their personal investments in chic wood furniture to last more than 15 years, the chickens of Silicon Valley scoff from their own versions of the Palace of Versailles. Some people contract workers to custom make chicken coops loaded to the beak with futuristic accoutrements including mobile device accessible climate control, predator motion sensing systems, plumbing, electricity, solar panels, and wood to match the homeowners’ own house. Or they can opt for a premade coop from Williams-Sonoma that’s coined the Range Rover of chicken cribs.

One can only wonder at the extent to which Silicon Valley is taking this tech driven reconnection with nature. Or if that’s the desire at all. Usually these fad hobbies come and go as quickly as technology changes, but in this case, we’re dealing with living creatures. But, in the words of one of chicken owner, “Experiencing them is a way of getting away from the technology that is in our lives so much of the time.”

It’s unconfirmed whether or not this was said while watching his chickens from a camera connected mobile app. Ba-Gok!

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