For the Love of Chickens - Musings on Why Chickens Matter

By Tamara119, Feb 13, 2014 | Updated: Mar 19, 2014 | | |
  1. Tamara119
    I'm not exactly new to chickens or BYC, but I also don't post very much so I guess I'll introduce myself. I'm Canadian, from Edmonton, and now I live in an amazing part of Argentine Patagonia—a little city called Bariloche. I got my first chickens a little over a year and a half ago, and it's been chicken math ever since. I thought I'd make this page to share with you why I love chickens, and why I think it's so addictive.

    Not my initial chicks, but some of my cutest:
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    I will always remember the first chicks I bought. They were impossibly cute and I was totally besotted by them. I took photos of their stripy little butts and fuzzy faces, sending the images to friends and family as though they were my first borns. My plan wasn't to just care for these chicks, but to ensure they would grow up to be the best and healthiest hens possible. I kept up with food, water and nutritious treats and maintained their pen perfectly. Those first days I would even unfailingly put on a rubber glove to pick up each piece of dried poop and toss it in a baggy to go out to the bin. Ah, how things have changed. I am now resigned to consider poop a cosmetic, since most of the time it's smeared on my face and no one even bothers to tell me anymore. I've also started waking up early in the mornings, and I mean reeeeally early. I used to think people who are chipper in the morning ought to be placed in one, and that waking before 8:30 was a crime against my nature. Now, I routinely wake between 6 and 6:30. Good grief! If my 20-year old self saw me now, she'd be appalled and attempt to disown me. But, it's a labour of love, and that's the curious part. I love these silly birds, and you cannot imagine how relieved I was to learn that I am not the only person with a lawn chair inside my chicken run. Watching my chickens puts me in a thoughtful, peaceful place, and I've spent a considerable amount of time wondering why this is so and why I love them.

    In my opinion, raising chickens, and more precisely, observing chickens, falls into the category of wildlife watching. Sure, they are domesticated animals, but the daily activities of free-range chickens are not dissimilar to those of their wild progenitors. Anyone who has ever been bird-watching or whale-watching knows firsthand of the pleasure of seeing animals interacting authentically with their environment. Wildlife watching brings about real, measurable changes beneficial to our state of mind. Of course, the thrill of seeing a rare or endangered animal such as a Humpback Whale or Jaguar is beyond compare, but nevertheless, the experience of wildlife watching via my chickens is genuine. Maybe too, I need my chicken time because at some level I'm tired of only having those experiences that marketers have engineered for me.

    As I sit in the run with my 4 month-old chicks, I watch them play. They are playing; they are having fun as they climb as high as they can in the quince tree, meticulously finding their way out onto the thinnest of branches before hurling themselves into the air and flapping as far as they can, landing in a puff of dust and jumping about in a circle before running to the base of the tree ready for another go. People always seem so astonished when they see footage of a bear playing in the snow or a crow playing with a ball. Animals do play, all the time; the surprise is not that they are playing, but that we have finally noticed.

    Time spent watching animals grants us opportunities to see our own behaviours echoed in them. It is through these resemblances that we experience kinship and connectedness with animals; the pain of separation and death, the renewal of spring and birth and the plight of raising the next generation, and through this we make sense of our place in the wider world. I've come to understand that watching animals is mesmerizing because of how well they do it. Orcas know how to be orcas, bees know how to be bees, mosquitos know how to be mosquitos and chickens know exactly how to be chickens. Watching them do their thing distracts us from our lingering doubt about how we do our thing.

    And finally, while I sit watching my chickens, a peculiar thought comes to me. Maybe I do live an extraordinary life. Maybe I need these moments to slow down and to remind myself about all the wonderful people I know, the amazing things I've done and can do, the breathtaking beauty I see in all of the life around me, and then maybe, just maybe, the restlessness and the sideways glances at other people's lives can stop. Maybe I, too, have it in me to live with the certainty and purpose that I find so enchanting about my chickens.

    I realize now that all of my journeys have been about getting myself to the very beginning. Starting from scratch, so to speak. Rather than making my life more complex, I'm actually undoing parts of it, taking away the clutter that leads to unhealthy patterns of stress and worry. Now I want to raise happy chickens, cook healthful food, work at things that delight me and indulge in the calm of living well.

    One of my chicks this year, looking for inchworms:
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    One of my coops with my lovely boy Mo:
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    Another family photo!
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    Deety, one of my best layers of extra-large, green spotted eggs:
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    In the winter here it rains like we're living in a car wash, so the chickens have access to the greenhouse for
    extra shelter. They happily eat all the slugs, bugs and leftover veggies:
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    More chicks from this year, enjoying the sun:
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    This mother, Legs (because she's so fast), parked her chicks right at the crumble feeder and then went to sleep:
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    Jubal, my 4-month old Blue Copper Maran, is a little challenged in the tail department
    and has decided to morph into a Great-horned Owl instead:
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    Tippy (because she was lame from scaly leg when we got her), exploring an extension of the run in early spring:
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    Tippy today, is broody again. My 'potted mum':
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    My rooster, Mo, enjoying a frosty autumn morning:
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    All in all, I have 40 chickens/chicks right now!

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  1. scratch'n'peck
    Beautiful photos. I also enjoyed reading your meditations on chickens etc. I fancy myself a Jane Goodall of chickens of sorts. I think we are quite fortunate to have chickens help us see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
  2. One Chick Two
    Really nice. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Great photos too.
    I laughed when you talked about your twenty year old self disowning you for getting up early. I can so relate! lol If I told my twenty year old self you are going to love having 90 chickens and being awakened every morning at 3, I would never have believed it. lol
  3. Tamara119
    Thanks! I bought Deety from a breeder who sells Araucanas, but the Araucana breed is really messed up here at best (same is true for many other breeds)! Like UK, NZ and Australia, Araucanas here can have tails. However, she is no more than a quarter Araucana, and the rest, who knows! I have BCMs and one single Welsummer hen from eggs I brought from Canada - these are the only pure breeds I have. I will bring more Wellie eggs next trip to Canada in order to give my girl a male.
  4. crazyfeathers
    Awesome!! What breed is Deety, she is absolutely beautiful. Love the pictures of your chicks. Thank you for sharing. I have a chair in my run as well and I sit with my flocks everyday. I enjoy watching them and their behavior with me and each other. They know when I'm in that chair it's treat time and they are all over me. I love my birds too. In the summer when company comes we all just sit outside of the run and watch the chickens it's weird that so many of us do this. I honestly spend more time with my flocks than I do with humans lol, chickens are much nicer to be around. Thanks

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