I spent half of 2015 and most of 2016 writing, How to Speak Chicken. It was a labor of love and something that I felt needed to reach the backyard chicken community. During my research, one of the many scientists that impressed me was psychology professor, Dr. Evans. A leading poultry researcher, he dedicated his life to decoding chickens. Like me, he too wanted to know exactly it was that made them tick and he made some pretty amazing discoveries. Sadly, Dr. Evans passed away in 2011 quite prematurely, from what I understand was a motor neuron disease. A man who had dedicated his life to communication lost his ability to speak due to the progression of his disease.
I learned of his passing when I tried to reach out to him for an interview for the book. The chicken world lost one of their number one voices. During the upcoming weeks, I found myself thinking a great deal about Dr. Evans. I was sad and angry, and felt for his family. I was mourning. My heart was heavy.
Incredibly, the universe works certain ways, and you can imagine my surprise to receive an unexpected email. It was from a woman who had studied chicken communication with Dr. Evans. I took it as a sign.
She shared a story with me about a rooster named Arnie who lived in the research center where Dr. Evan’s worked. This woman, like me, was pretty sure that Arnie had a vocalization to identify her. Dr. Evans was less convinced by her theory. After working in the research center for a while and spending time with the flock (aka Arnie and his groupies), she eventually graduated from her studies and left. A few months later, she returned to pay a visit and along came Arnie to greet her. Arnie not only ran to greet her, but he was calling out that same vocalization that she recognized. Interestingly, Dr. Evans had noted that all while she was away, he did not hear Arnie make that sound. That day, Dr. Evans was convinced that this sound was indeed a call associated with this woman- Arnie had given her a “name”.
I believe that God works in mysterious ways and the connection between this woman and I was no accident. Somehow, our paths were meant to cross. Our email exchange gave me a momentum that I cant explain. The chickens still needed a voice. Today the aviaries of the research center are no longer in existence and the birds were re-homed to fellow chicken keepers. Yet, we as backyard chicken keepers we can continue to share the magic of the flock with those around us. I will always be an advocate for these fascinating birds and I hope you will too. Thank you Dr. Evans.
4 thoughts on “Chicken Speak: When Fate Intervenes”
What a lovely post! I learned of your website after hearing your incredible podcast on Living Homegrown. I thought of you last night when I turned out the lights of my chickens’ house and gave my girls their nightly, “Goodnight girls-see you in the morning!”. As I shut the door, I heard my one chicken call out in a purring-like chirp to wish me goodnight as well. It filled my heart with such a sense of happiness and peace. To your thoughts on Dr. Evans and the rooster at the research site, the universe really does communicate to us in so many ways. We simply need to be mindful and be open to hearing it. Thank you for your blog to share this story about Dr. Evans, the woman who worked with him, and Arnie. You have enriched many of our lives through your book, blogs and podcasts, and I look forward to reading more from you!
You are so sweet Laura! Thank you for leaving this moment. You made my day and I sure how that I can continue to contribute good things to this world.
Dr. Evans would be very happy to know his work was reaching everyone – not just other academics. By the way, have you heard of of The Kimmela Centre? They are doing some work on chickens and recently published a paper called “Thinking Chickens”.
Thank you Karen, I sure hope you are right. He was pretty amazing and I so wish that I could have known him. I will definitely have to check out the Kimmel Centre. Thank you for sharing this with me.