The truth is, if it has feathers, I’m probably going to like it.
If it doesn’t have feathers, I would probably like it better if we added some.
Even now as I type, I have a small bundle of feathers snoozing on my right knee (total bliss).
And every morning when I wake up – for about the last 5 years now – I have woken to the cheery clucking sounds of feathered fellowship.
At my last casa, my nearest neighbors were three lady chickens (my landlady and her two featherless kids lived just across their yard from me). In this newest casa, I cohabitate with an older couple and their two hens.
When I moved in here, the chickens were our welcome committee. They would follow me up the short stack of stairs right to the front door of my little cottage, clucking all the while.
Then they would stand there, still clucking and looking very cute, while I tried my best to explain about “chicken poop” (which is incredibly large and plentiful given the overall size and diet of its makers) and why I couldn’t invite them inside.
To this day, I still don’t quite think they understand our lack of hospitality.
Once I made the mistake of gifting them with a plump earthworm one of my turtles was too full to eat. I was instantly promoted to “persona grata.” Now they follow my boyfriend up the stairs to my front door too.
Apparently, a chicken never forgets.
But it wasn’t until I watched the CMT documentary called “Chicken People” that I realized these observations are bargain basement level in the world of chicken lovers.
While watching the film I learned that chickens, like people, can hold grudges. Also, like us, they have best friends and enemies.
And just like us, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors – yet unlike us, the chickens don’t seem to mind this.
They are also way more patient than most people I’ve met, sitting perfectly and politely still for shampoos, blow drys, grooming, nail clipping, combing, spritzing and the kind of intimate handling I’ve only ever had to endure at my annual “well woman” exams.
But most intriguingly, unlike the featherless beings that raise and show them, they don’t care if they “win” or “lose.” In fact, after watching the documentary twice, I am convinced they don’t even notice.
It was so eye-opening to watch their people jumping up and down after a big win or arguing amongst themselves over a low show rating, only to look over at their oblivious chickens and encounter…..nothing.
The chickens didn’t mind. They didn’t take it personally. A competing group of petite sleek chickens could be stationed right next to a competing group of round fluffy chickens, and I never once saw the round chickens trying to jump on a treadmill so they could look more like the petite chickens.
They seemed so at home in their own, um, skin.
Often, they seemed to feel way more at home than I do, and certainly more so than some of the folks showcased in the documentary film. In fact, one contestant went so far as to credit her chickens with keeping her sober and giving her her life and family back.
The thing is, I believe her.
To prove it, I submit exhibit A, otherwise known as my own little “chicken,” and the book I wrote about all the ways that he makes my life worth living.
I also know people who say the same thing about their cats (one colleague of mine claims that when she got her three cats, she was able to get off her anti-anxiety medication).
And I know folks whose dogs take care of them just as much as they take care of their dogs.
More than one mentor of mine has also shared with me about deep experiences of communicating with the wind, the trees, the ocean and nature.
This has occurred frequently enough that I’ve come to believe it is simply the way of things.
We need each other so very much.
I am not even embarrassed to say I regularly chat with “the ladies” (that is what I call the 2 hens pictured here) as I tend to my turtles and plants and putter around the backyard.
It feels good to engage in these pleasantries, even if I’m not always sure any of us really know what we are trying to say to each other. Maybe we are just trying to say, “Hi, you are very pretty, I see you, thanks for being you, thanks for listening, it is good to be your neighbor.”
If so, how lovely. I have human neighbors who are not nearly so courteous or sociable.
Truly, not since the time nearly two decades ago when I spent half a year living in India have I had such a strong sense that we are all just beings, living here together, conversing as best we can despite the language barriers, going about our days and minding our own business (and hoping no one nearby to us wakes up one day and thinks we look flavorful enough to eat).
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever felt closer to nature or non-human beings than you do to members of your own species? Do you have one species you find yourself especially drawn to engage with? What do you think you are able to receive – and give – through these inter-species connections that perhaps is lacking or out of reach somehow your in person-to-person connections?