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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Are backyard chickens like gateway drugs?

My advice this morning is simple: Rent a chicken.

That is, if you are one of those people interested in the latest, hottest new trend of raising hens in your backyard so that you can have eggs, try 'em before you fly 'em. That way, you won't have too much egg on your face.

At least that was one report I heard on the radio the other morning. The other was about goats.

The hen one said that people are intrigued by the idea of raising chickens, but they aren't sure how much trouble they will be, whether the prospective owner will be able to care for them (brushing hen's teeth, for example), or whether the neighbors will mind.

So there are now businesses (American entrepreneurship lives!) that will rent you a chicken and all the fixin's to try out on the back 40.

According to the NPR (National Poultry Radio) report, some neighbors are suspicious that chickens just may be like marijuana, a kind of "gateway drug'' that will lead to goats, cows and all kinds of critters. Sort of a chicken-leads-to-pot kind of thing.

Apparently, even renting a chicken isn't foolproof. Chickens still get abandoned. And, in what I consider one of the great contradictions in terms of all time, there are now "rescue chicken'' establishments.

Somehow, "rescue'' and "chicken'' just don't go together.

Lawns and goats do, of course.

You know it's the dog days of August in the news business when the networks start reporting on how the government is using goats to trim back the greenery at federal cemeteries.

One of the nightly news programs reported that this was really nothing new, showing pictures of an earlier time when goats were used to cut the lawn at the White House. Now they are using them at cemeteries and federal parks, and everything is just great, went the story.

It took the lady of the little house to ask the obvious question.

"You don't have to clean up after a lawn mower. Who cleans up after the goats?''

Meanwhile, state Fish and Game wants us all to be on the lookout for wild turkeys. If you see something, say something. OK, Ted Walski, take this down. Two wild turkeys four miles up on the Cog Railway base road last Monday. Two more on the Everett Turnpike southbound about a mile after the Bedford tolls last Thursday.

Write to Joe McQuaid at or via Twitter at @deucecrew.

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