I am fascinated by my chickens. Well to be exact, one glorious rooster and 7 rather diverse hens. Before I had my flock, I never really understood the appeal of chickens. I suspect it is common to assume that chickens are a bit dense and lacking in personality, but nothing could be further from the truth. One of my happy places is sitting on an old pile of timber out by the hen house where I can watch my flock. I could quite happily sit there for hours and watch the world go by. I sometimes wish I could paint so I could create something called, “A still life with chickens”, though there would be nothing still about it. My moments of chicken contemplation have taught me, or reminded me of some rather valuable life lessons.
Sometimes you just need to shake it off, ruffle your feathers and move on
We all have bad days, like when a rooster pecks you on your head or when you lay an egg on a precariously sloping cupboard, and it rolls to the floor and cracks. Sometimes things don’t go our way, or the day might not turn out as planned. Generally though it is not the end of the world and the best thing you can do is shake it off, ruffle your feathers like you just don’t care, puff out your chest and move on.
Sometimes the good stuff is buried where we can’t see it
Every morning Archie and Rissie give the chickens a bucketful of food scraps. Most afternoons, as I am prone to be a little on the obsessive-compulsive side, I rake everything up into a growing pile in the corner of their runs. I do love a clean chicken coop. It always amazes me that the next day, that growing pile is scattered in all directions. I watch the chickens scrape the dirt and ferret out any little treat they can find and sometimes their cackle tells me they have come across something delicious. The good stuff can’t always be seen and sometimes you need to search a little harder to find it.
Teamwork can be magic.
My flock is made up of Rocky and his two black girls and the five brown rescue hens. They don’t really mingle and sometimes I think they barely tolerate each other. The five brown girls occasionally move as one and I love watching them discover endless riches in the yard together. Sometimes working as a team can bring untold joy.
Appreciate your own company
Regina and the dark fairy, my two black girls, are loners. When Rocky is not giving them hell they tend to contemplate their chicken navels on their own. Whilst there is a frenetic quality to the brown girls and they have a very #busylife Regina and the dark fairy move at their own pace. There is a beauty in solitude and sometimes the best company you can find is your own.
Just because your wings don’t work does not mean you can’t fly
One of my chickens must have momentarily gathered the strength to explore the world next door. I was alerted to her rather concerned cluck one afternoon and Al and went to investigate and bring her back home. It took the two of us running around like idiots to realise that this chicken was bloody fast. She was fast, she was swift. Her wings didn’t work but it didn’t matter because she still could fly.
Laugh at the bullies and if that doesn’t work then run like hell
Rocky tends to be a bit of a bully. Regina and Dark Fairy follow in his wake and are inclined to bow to his every need. I was a little bit worried about my brown girls, but I now don’t give it a second thought. Occasionally Rocky is prone to pecking them on the head, but generally they flock around him, ignore his puffed-out chest and I am certain they are constantly laughing at him. There is nothing more annoying than being laughed at when you think you are tough and fierce. When he really has had enough and looks like he is going to strike, the girls know enough to run like hell!
Treat every day like it is a new day
Whenever we greet the chickens they seem overcome with excitement. They genuinely treat every day like it is a new day and face it with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. The compost pile, the water bowl, the old fallen down swing set and their hay filled coop. Every day everything seems new to them and a whole new world is ready to be explored.
Get outside every moment you can
Time to sleep, time to lay, time to peck my boots when I am at the food bin. These are great times to be inside. Any other time it is best to be outside. The sunshine, the wind, the grass, the dirt. You only know what there is to explore if you are outside every day, with eyes wide open, appreciating every moment and waiting for a world of opportunities to be revealed. It is a beautiful world, but you will only experience it if you leave the chicken coop.
Sometimes it is good to dance in the rain and jump in puddles.
Yesterday I went to give the flock their afternoon feed and found five of my girls sopping wet and running through puddles. It looked like the most glorious and elaborate dance. We all must save time for a little dancing in the rain.
There is always going to be a Chicken Little
Sometimes one of the chickens will squawk and start running around in a frenetic fashion as if the sky is falling in. They remind me of Chicken Little. There is always going to be Chicken Littles in life. Chickens who get hit on the head by an acorn and swear the sky is falling in and that life is over. They are best to be ignored, though it is always a good idea to quickly look up and double check that there is not a hawk or quoll lurking nearby.
Life lessons from my chickens. Shake it off, ruffle your feathers and move on. Sometimes you must look a little harder for the good stuff. Teamwork is great but so is being alone. Just because your wings don’t work, doesn’t mean you can’t fly. Laugh at the bullies or run like hell from the arseholes. Treat every day like a new day. Get outside as much as you can. Dance in the rain and don’t let Chicken Little get you down.