I owe a lot to my flock of chickens that we have kept for almost 2 years now. As amazing as it seems, they have taught and reminded my family about life. I'm ashamed to say that, prior to owning chickens, I did not know what their value truly was except for putting meat on the table and producing eggs. All of that has now changed.
The girls that are left from the original flock, Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine and Feathers, share a special bond with me. I raised them as day old chicks and taught them how to grow into chickens the best that I could. Many things came instinctually to them, scratching, pecking and eventually roosting. Yet, sitting outside the brooder, spending time together and talking to them the best I could, seems to have allowed us as a family to share a special bond with these four girls. We acquired Dolly at 4 months of age, when she had already learned the basics. Overtime, Dolly has grown to love us and respect us, yet I don't think she views us the same as the other four. Our last two, Dottie Speckles and Fifi both were raised by Dolly during her last clutch. They imprinted on her and she will always be their mother, still they have learned to feel comfortable with us from the other chickens.
Chickens are incredibly sweet. They enjoy being loved. Some more than others. Some are content to sit in your lap,willingly receiving affection while others are happy just to catch a quick pat on the run. They are intelligent. I read somewhere that chickens have over 30 distinct words/phrases that mean several things. They try to communicate with me. To this day, I try to emulate what they say to me, especially Tilly. I know the song they sing when they lay their eggs. I know when they call to me to come visit them when I am out in the yard. I know their call of alarm and fear. I know how they purr contently at night when I am tucking them in and locking them up. I have learned parts of their language and they have learned parts of ours.
To date, with almost 20 years of experience, my professional career in medicine continually opens my eyes. Initially, my lessons were not only filled with medical courses and learning techniques, but with years of classes in sociology, anthropology, psychology and the like. Yet once I started caring for patients I came to a realization. It took me experiencing the lives of others to realize what is valuable in life. It is not about running the rat race. It is not how much money you make or the car you drive. It comes down to relationships. The love, family and friends that you have surrounding you in the end and living each day to the fullest, living in the moment and never in the past or the future.
I never thought that keeping chickens could teach all of those things too, but they have. Their lives are simple. They seize the day everyday. They live with gusto and a spring in their step. They are eternally happy and melt any sadness or glum in my heart when I see them. They live intelligent lives never sweating the "small stuff". They have complex relationships among themselves that comes with ups and downs. They are loving toward one another and show deep care and concern when another is sick or injured. They are nurturing and always watching out for one another. The have great work ethics and fulfill their roles within the flock. This is their flock mentality. Their material needs are simple; food, water, and shelter. In their day to day lives, they have everything that humans strive for in the end. Yet, often us intelligent humans are blinded by life's distractions.
I am incredibly thankful for our flock. I am thankful for these reminders and new lessons that my young children are learning. In a world today that is becoming more and more fast paced and complicated, life's true joy still comes from the relationships that you share with others. Life is as complicated as one makes it. True happiness is attainable. Sometimes, figuring out how to find it can be as simple as watching chickens.
|Life's lessons begin as the mother hen talks to her eggs|
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest