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.