Tag Archives: chickens

Who We Are

Who we are, the energy we bring to any endeavor is vital to the outcome of that undertaking. I was once sitting on a log in a quiet, shaded area of a city park, just enjoying the day when I noticed that a not fully-grown squirrel was approaching me from the end of the log. I was delighted! But then I had the sudden fear based thought, “What if it has rabies?!” Immediately the squirrel turned and ran away. I hadn’t moved a muscle, made not one sound. The thought took a millisecond to pass but the energy of the thought was enough for the squirrel to pick up and understand.

When you are engaged in something, no matter what, your energy is affecting your entire body and everything around you. Animals are the barometer of the kind of energy you have – the proverbial canary in the coal mine at an energetic level. For the past two years, I have been working with chickens in different capacities. Recently, a small group of them has come entirely under my caretaking. Chickens are fascinating, curious and friendly creatures and I love taking care of them.

My favorite part of the day is in the morning when I open the coop and the birds enthusiastically rush out to greet the day. Although I don’t do anything overt — outside of standing there and watching — that tells them how much I enjoy them, they know. After a few months of this morning ritual, the kingpin rooster, Big Mike, now comes over to give me a personal greeting every morning – a peck on the hand – to let me know that they are glad to see me too. He even ran all the way down the hill the other day to greet me when he saw me coming. Animals are intimately aware of all of the energies around them.

This is true of anything. Your energy affects everything inside and outside of you although you may not be in the least bit conscious of that. Remember this if you are trying to make change in yourself and in the world. Are you approaching change with mindfulness, compassion and empathy for yourself and all concerned, or are you infusing negative energy into whatever endeavor you are undertaking?

Bye Bye Birdie!

People don’t often think of animals as making conscious decisions. But they do. Last month I wrote about a chicken that had been injured and who was under the coop that night waiting for her death by predator or freezing. Ignorant of the Natural Laws, and loving the old hen, I coaxed her out from under the coop and helped her inside. The next day she seemed to be alive and well although still injured. She had two more days of being relatively active, considering her state, and appearing to enjoy her life out in the field with the flock.  I was happy for her. So for two more nights I helped her back into the coop. But by the third day, she had obviously declined steeply. That night I once again helped her back into the coop. As I placed her in the coop, she turned to look at me as if saying, but not unkindly, “Insane human!”

The next day, my co-workers spotted her early in the day, partially hidden, way over in the bushes. I knew by that time that it was truly her time to go. So, although it was a difficult decision, I decided I wouldn’t look for her that night. I knew that she had made a conscious decision to go where I wouldn’t find her and that she had purposely hidden from me in order to die her own natural way. The next morning I found her there, in the bushes, frozen, finally having left her body in peace to move on to Happy Hen Heaven.

 

Time to Go?

It was dusk, close to dark, the time of deepening shadows. The chicken yard was empty. I went out to close the chicken coop and was about to return to the house when for some reason I decided to look under the coop. There in the obscurity of darkness was a form. It didn’t look quite like a chicken, it looked like an upright lump. I couldn’t distinguish a head or tail and it wasn’t moving. But I knew it was one of the hens. I called to her to come in but she didn’t move so I knew something was wrong. I called to her a couple more times, and then finally I found a long branch and gently herded her back into the coop. It would have been sure death by some hungry predator for her to stay out all night.

The next morning I could see clearly that she had injured her neck. She couldn’t pick up her head to get to the feeder so was pecking along the floor for spilled pieces of grain. Having seen chickens with injured necks before, I knew this could be terminal. Later in the day, when all the birds were outside, I gave the injured hen, who was standing stark still, alone in the middle of the chicken yard, a handful of grain. Immediately the other chickens came over and gradually sidled her out of the way. Then, as I tried to prevent the healthy group from eating it all, Big Bird, the turkey rooster, flew at me. I realized immediately that I was interfering in the natural order and that I needed to let go so they could take care of the situation. They knew she had to go. An animal has to be able to take care of itself or it becomes a burden to the group. Big Bird was letting me know.

The rules of Mother Nature are imbedded into all animals. The hen instinctively knew the scheme of things and that was why she had objected to coming into the coop the night before. It was her time to go. The law of Nature says that the sick and injured must go and I had interfered. The hen was ready to die. That evening when I went to close up the coop, she was not under the coop waiting for the salvation of death. I went inside. She was under the heat light, in labored breathing. I felt sad for my ignorance — maybe It would have been an easier death for her to have been taken by a predator. I looked at her and thought, “She will be dead by the time I come to feed them in the morning.”

Morning came. As I walked toward the coop, I felt angst at the thought of carrying out the body of my little friend. I stepped tentatively into the coop and there she was in the corner – alive and with her head up! She scarfed up a healthy meal from the feeder and I knew she was going to make it. Not time to go!

Chicken Rebels

Do you ever wonder what drives animals to do what they do? Or wonder if and what they are thinking? Here on the farm, chickens reign. Chickens are complex, fascinating and gregarious creatures. They hang out together in the coop, under the coop, out in the tall grass. The group will often, at the behest of the rooster or one of the hens, suddenly take off running toward a definite destination and clearly with great purpose, but for reasons not obvious to humans – at least not to this human. Maybe they sense an insect convocation somewhere up the hill; or maybe the time of day, the scent on the wind, the position of the sun calls them to a certain spot. Sometimes they run off together to hang out in collusion under a tree, possibly planning for . . . . . do chickens plan? Do they have issues that they have to work out among themselves?

Despite their gregariousness there is, occasionally, almost predictably, a lone chicken who goes off to live her own sovereign life: to roost and sleep and lay her eggs out in the field, or in the greenhouse, or under a pine tree, instead of hanging out with the group at the coop. Against great dangers she goes because there is an abundance of predators out there who feast on chickens: hawks, raccoons, foxes, big cats. Just this November Nate, the farmer, found at various locations in the field, the remains of four noble younger hens who had been living independent of the coop. These rebels would all have their independence despite the dangers.

Recently one has taken to laying eggs under a huge Blue Spruce tree quite a ways from the coop, not far from the road. It is winter. Cold. Temperatures hover around 6 degrees. We have at least a foot of snow. Nate found the autonomous hen under the Spruce one day, sitting on her eggs, so cold that she could hardly move. He carried her back to the coop. But next day she goes back to the tree. I watched her yesterday returning from her hideaway under the spruce walking toward the coop. She moved through the snow like a monk in meditation. One foot at a time, with boundless patience and determination, she would place one in front of the other. Occasionally she would fall into a snow drift and stop. Then, after a momentary pause in her journey, flap her wings and go on moving, dignified, proud.

The distance from the spruce to the coop is probably around 300’. That’s a long way for a relatively small critter to go so ponderously through snow and in such frigid weather. Remember? Six degrees. I marvel at what spirit, what passion or calling possesses her to choose the road less travelled while the group in the coop remains in warmth, camaraderie and in evident contentment. Animals are complex creatures. Is this one called to a contemplative life? Or maybe, more adventurously, she has dreams of starting her own roadside egg stand some day? What is she thinking? What goes on in the minds of animals?

Eating Animals: Nature/Culture

There is a beautiful, not very large, completely white cat who lives here on the farm. She is very affectionate but never pushy. She is also a master hunter. I have seen her capture chipmunks and play with the terrified creatures for long periods of time before eating them. On a recent day I returned to the farm to find a surgically decapitated and completely filleted chipmunk lying on the porch. All that was left was the perfectly severed head, and separated from the head by an inch, the long line of the aorta connected with the internal organs – identifiable heart, liver — and one leg. Not a single bone or any fur left except on the severed skull. “Momma Kitty,” as she is known, had eaten, or very neatly disposed of, everything else.

Nate the farmer uses natural farming methods to raise chickens as kindly and holistically as possible. He has painstakingly arranged it so that each group of approximately 50 chickens has their own coop and a 50×100’ free-range pasture to roam as they please. Next year he plans to plant chicken gardens so the chickens will have a variety of fresh food. Presently, twice a day, all of the chickens are fed well on non-GMO corn and supplied with water. These chickens are raised for meat. At the end of eight weeks, Nate carefully lifts each of the chickens into a large cage and takes them to the ‘processor.’ The processed chickens are then sold to very appreciative customers who pay extra because of the care that was given the chickens and for their human health benefits. What comes up for you as you read these two stories?