Saturday, November 08, 2014

free range chickens as a metaphor for a life well lived

I can hear the quiet mumbling among some of you, see the eye roll, the shake of the head: here come those cheepers again! It's like Ed for breakfast: a record replayed over and over again!

You are so right. The brood of hens and the rooster are, to me, like a play, a hit parade -- with hints at something greater, vignettes of a life that proceeds along a different path than, say, yours or mine, but it is a life well lived and I assure you, we profit by watching it unfold before us.

So like the breakfast that sets our day in motion...


...the cheepers, too, have their place in my day.

Fact is, they scale down my expectations for it. Consider this: a throw of seeds and bread bits leaves them in a state of bliss for hours on end.


An ill conceived snack of crushed yam tortilla chips (I know, I know, whose dumb idea was it to buy those?) has Scotch come back to our door and ask -- can we do better here?


They have group think, yes they do!


But sometimes they go off on their own explorations (this next photo is yesterday's but I forgot to use it).


They're curious about us, but they're not overpowering in their affection. In other words, if we're not around, they manage. (As, for example, when we go for out game of tennis today.)


There is a give and take, of course. The eggs. (Still laying!) Their pleasant demeanor. Their fine looks.


But they want help with food and shelter. We deliver. In the winter, they're in the big barn.


But they always -- every day, in fact several times each day -- come to the farmhouse, right to our door, reminding us that sometimes a little gift can go a long way...


By dusk, they move closer and closer to their coop. The roaming foursome, respectful of property lines, always moving not too far from each others field of vision...


...slowly retreats when the sun is just this close to the horizon.

Their conversation subsides. The white girls find an evening spot where they will linger, often together, dozing off, forgetting that there is a safer place (Ed needs to lift them off the fence each night and place them inside the coop). Scotch finds her favorite place right in the laying box and these days, Oreo climbs up and sits in the upper doorway, so that the white hens have to squeeze past him as they climb up. Chickens don't make a fuss about personal space violations. No one protests when there is a bit of pushing and shoving.

In general, they're all so agreeable. Give them an open field, a safe place for the night and a handful of grains and they ask for nothing more. They are, otherwise the masters of their own well being. They fashion their own castle -- right there in the dirt or underneath a bush or pickup truck. Tell me there is no such thing as a happy chicken and I'll invite you to spend a day around our cheepers. Just so you can see their take on what counts as a good day.