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.
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.
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:
This mother, Legs (because she's so fast), parked her chicks right at the crumble feeder and then went to sleep:
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:
Tippy (because she was lame from scaly leg when we got her), exploring an extension of the run in early spring:
Tippy today, is broody again. My 'potted mum':
My rooster, Mo, enjoying a frosty autumn morning:
All in all, I have 40 chickens/chicks right now!