This summer, I have had four chickens and a rooster in our backyard behind our summer house. I would have preferred a dog, but reality set its limits; during the winter we stay in a flat, and my fiancé has an allergy. So we thought chickens whould be perfect – they stay outside, they lay eggs and my fiancé doesn’t need to hug them (too much…).
I have put together a list of things I have learnt from them during the past month as a chicken farmer:
Stress-coping like a chicken. The chickens get stressed sometimes, and that is totally ok and natural. What makes the difference between people and chickens is that the chickens have an unbelievable ability to calm down when the (real or imagined) danger has passed. People tend to over-analyse everything, chickens don’t.
Eating your vegatables. They are crazy about tomatoes and cucumber, for example. Fruits are not so popular, for some reason – too sweet maybe?
Celebrating every day. When a chicken lays an egg the whole pack starts “singing”. This is also a potential learning point for us humans – to celebrate both small and big accomplishments. And to not be jealous, but rather cheer for our fellows.
Having routines. Being an early bird means being really early. The rooster starts cuckooing between 4-5a.m. They are also good at going to bed in time. Around 21:30-22:00 they start walking towards the hen house. I wish my sleeping clock was as accurate as theirs…
The importance of relaxing. Working (=laying eggs) takes energy, but for the chickens relaxing is just as important. They keep a good balance between work and leisure, which could be important to remember for humans too…
Apart from things that can be applied to a more balanced life I have also had the opportunity to reflect a bit on where our food comes from. Of course I knew that chickens lay eggs and so on, but this goes deeper. Where does the chickens live, how much space do they have – are they happy? Do they have access to grass (I have the feeling my chickens eat more grass than a cow…)? Also, holding a chicken and examining it has made me realise what “hot wings” really are… Wings! It might sound silly, which is basically is. Having chickens has made me realise how far away from our food we are, and how little we do know about the animals some of us eat.
Ps. I had to buy eggs from the store yesterday, and I stood there at the egg shelf realising how many different kinds of eggs there are – free range, free range with access to grass, organic, cage eggs, cages with toys etc. etc. etc… And yes, it hurt my heart a bit to have to buy eggs from chickens without names. How is somebody supposed to understand which eggs are the best?
Ps 2. You don’t have to worry about the chickens’ destiny when we are moving back to the flat in the autumn – the chickens are going to move to my friend’s place on the neighbouring island!
Ps3. Yes, the blondie is a super eater!