More and more people in the United States are raising chickens for their eggs, and Martha, who has been keeping chickens of her own for more than 30 years, couldn't be happier. In the first part of the twentieth century, just about everyone -- particularly women -- kept chickens to both eat their eggs and earn money by selling them. Now, their popularity is soaring, as recounted in the New Yorker article "The It Bird," by author and chicken owner Susan Orlean.
Martha's chickens, which produce eggs in a variety of colors -- including white, brown, pale green, and even blue pastel -- reside in four custom-built coops. Unlike traditional chicken coops, these structures have doors on either end that slide from side to side, rather than opening out, for easy access. The frames were built using wood from fallen trees, while the roof uses slate tiles recycled from an old Vermont house. Inside, these coops contain heat lamps for young chicks and special water containers that won't freeze during cold winter months.