John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The perfect gift for the urban farmer who's trying to alienate loved ones with dumb purchases.
Why would anyone drop $100 grand on a gussied-up chicken shed? Well, consider it an insurance policy for these uncertain times: Should you ever lose the mortgage on the real house, you could squeeze into the coop and start life anew, a true king among hens.
And you might be moving in sooner than you planned, thanks to alienated family members who are steamed you wasted the nest egg on a bunch of spoiled birds. Thankfully, all the comforts of home are to be found in the "Heritage Hen Mini Farm," on sale now in the Christmas catalog of Neiman Marcus. I'll let the Dallas luxury retailer give the tour, because this paragraph really is the perfect amalgam of poetry and sales pitch:
Dawn breaks. The hens descend from their bespoke Versailles-inspired Le Petit Trianon house to their playground below for a morning wing stretch. Slipping on your wellies, you start for the coop and are greeted by the pleasant clucking of your specially chosen flock and the site of the poshest hen house ever imagined. Your custom-made multilevel dwelling features a nesting area, a "living room" for nighttime roosting, a broody room, a library filled with chicken and gardening books for visitors of the human kind, and, of course, an elegant chandelier. The environment suits them well as you notice the fresh eggs awaiting morning collection. Nearby, you pick fresh vegetables or herbs from your custom-built raised gardens. You've always fancied yourself a farmer – now thanks to Heritage Hen Farm, you're doing it in the fanciest way possible!
An elegant chandelier, "of course" – but where's the jacuzzi? There isn't one? What a piece of garbage.
The designer of this insane product is Svetlana Simon, a chicken breeder in Boynton Beach, Florida. She modeled the Mini Farm after the palace and majestic gardens of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the "first gentlelady farmer," to believe this video. That's a bit of an ominous sign, if you think about what preceded the executions of both of those noblepeople. What was their sin again – being too thrifty with money?
Bizarrely, this so-called "beau coop" is not the world's most expensive playpen for poultry. That honorific might go to a "hen house the size of a two-bedroom flat" commissioned by London hedge-fund manager Crispin Odey, according to Urban Gardens. It is rumored to cost at least $242,000 and has already attracted (what I hope to be) a tongue-in-cheek architectural review from The Guardian's deputy editor, who deemed it "straightforwardly, even boringly, classical." I'm sure the guy who just dropped a normal bloke's salary for five years on a glorified birdcage will be fretting over that put-down for years.
Forthwith, a few more images of the feathery wonder, which does in fact come with hens included:
Svetlana Simon, bird-mansion entrepreneur:
Images courtesy of Neiman Marcus