Which is, in part, why I began this blog, as the hours between 4 and 6 a.m. are clearly when I do my best thinking. At least, that is what I tell myself as the thoughts and words circulate like smoke curls in and out of semi-conscious dreams. So this morning, listening to the rooster, I got to thinking of all the great lessons we can take from the life of a chicken.
TEN THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM CHICKENS
1. Early to bed, early to rise. A chicken’s day is pretty much dictated by the sun, as should ours be. If I had taken this piece of advice, I would not now be languishing in the wake of too much late night TV. Much to my annoyance, I’ve already got the second part of this advice down pat, apparently.
2. Whatever job you have, attack it with gusto. Hens have one job. They lay an egg every day or so, depending on breed. They are very efficient, don’t make a fuss and just get the job done. All they ask is regular food and water and a clean-ish coop.
A cock (rooster) on the other hand, has 2 jobs. The first is to get us all up in the morning, and he does this very well. Don’t tell me he’s not enjoying it – he clearly loves crowing, since he does it so loudly and so often. His second job is to mate with all 7 hens as many times as possible in the course of the day. Again, this is a job he takes very seriously and appears to enjoy very much indeed. No matter how flighty or unwilling the hen, he will chase her down, wear her out and get the job done. (Ok. Maybe I should put THIS part in a new list of things we should NOT learn from chickens. Plus 3 of his mates are his sisters and that is just gross, man, so… <ahem> Moving on…)
3. Recycle. Yesterday’s leftover prawn gumbo is tomorrow’s egg.
4. Keep yourself clean, and enjoy the process. You have never seen joy until you have seen a chicken take a dust bath. The joy I take in bathing usually involves bubbles and a glass of wine, which is way more expensive and fussy than a bowl of dust, but hey, chickens are cheap and easily pleased.
5. Stay curious. Life is full of shiny objects that need investigating. Never stop asking yourself, “Holy COW! What IS that sparkly buckle made of?”
6. Mother (and father) like a hen. Ever try to mess with chicks under a broody hen? Oh, my friends, she will fly at you and make your life a Wagnerian nightmare. You don’t want to go there. And this all-up-in-arms doesn’t just apply when her little ones are little. My daughter’s broody fostered a clutch of Aylesbury ducks who, within 8 weeks, outsized her by at least 3 times. But that little momma, at the first sign of danger, would call to her “babies” and they would practically suffocate her trying to climb up under her wings. For a little hen, she managed to cover a surprising amount of duck butt. Which leads me to my next 2 points.
7. Watch out for hawks and foxes. If you spot trouble heading toward your coop, jump up and down, run in circles, squawk loudly to alert others and then make a mad dash for cover. Works like a charm. It doesn’t matter if it is a false alarm – better safe than sorry. The real harm comes in seeing the danger and telling no one.
8. Protect your family. If somebody is in your run and you don’t think he ought to be there, feel free to peck him in the backside until he vacates the area. It doesn’t matter if he views you as the “problem chicken” who is “difficult” and “grouchy”; it doesn’t matter if he tells all his friends what a “vitriolic, poisonous hoyden” you are. Hey, he ventured where he shouldn’t have. He took liberties. End of story. Chicken: 1, Strange Man Who Shouldn’t Be Here: 0.
9. Don’t poop in your nest. It’s just really, really gross.
10. Respect the pecking order of your flock. Every social group has one. It is necessary for survival. But just remember if you are going to use your beak to assert your authority, be careful. Peck anyone too much and you can maim them for life. Or worse. Use your beak wisely. All the clean sawdust and straw in the world will not make for a happy coop if there is disunity among the birds.
feature photo: Shutterstock
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