I never thought that the chickens would also extend into my social life. I cannot tell you how many times I have been able to break the ice, warm a chill to a room and create new friendships based upon my chickens.
Talking about the chickens always surprises people. “Really, you have chickens?” “Where do you keep them?” So many of these types of questions are always fun. People are always taken back by the fact that I have chickens in my backyard. “Oh they’re so dirty.” Well, not really. I am not on a farm with a pig sty in the back. They are more like keeping a rabbit, somewhere between a cat and a dog. Their area is realtively clean with minor maintainance. If you have any odors, there is a problem somewhere or it just rained like crazy and everything is soaked. The birds themselves are clean too. They do a great job at preening their feathers and the only time they needed help from me was when they had pasty butts as chicks!
It is also terrific to meet someone with chickens too. All types of people keep chickens from the highest class imaginable to the immigrant population raising the birds for the table. Chickens reach everyone. I am surprised when people respond that they too have chickens. Conversations just seem to flow from there, much like comparing and bragging about your own children. People compare breeds, personalities, techniques and even consult each other about problems.
A few times now I have arranged a playdate for my kids at a new friend’s house. After spending sometime there, I hear what I think is a rooster. I ask, “Do you have chickens?” and they say YES!! Like most people, I do not suspect it. The coop and run are not in plain view. Sure enough though, upon further exploration either tucked back behind some large rhodedendrons or in a corner niche to the side is the coop and run.
Discovering and exploring a coop set-up that is not your own is sometimes like a kid in a candy store. I love to see how other people do things. What are their issues? What are their successes? How are their birds laying? Where do they lay? Sometimes the coops are rustic created out of an old dog house and sometimes I feel like I am entering a chicken Taj Mahal.
However, my favorite times are when the FedEx or UPS guys come to deliver a package and get a kick out of the chickens. I love their surprise and how the regular drivers always inquire about the girls and pay them a quick visit before they leave.
Perfect strangers are becoming friends over one common bond…the chicken.