Gratitude: Why You Should Sit With Your Chickens
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Back when I was brand new to chicken keeping, my flock was the most entertaining and inspiring thing I’d ever invested in. I devoted way more time than I should probably admit to watching them, discussing them, researching them, sitting with them, talking to them, and planning how I could increase their numbers.
The excitement of a new chicken owner is totally insane. As it should be.
But twelve or so years later, they’re just chickens.
I don’t mean that to be crass or uncaring. I just mean they’re part of everything else in our life, lumped into one hectic, ridiculously chaotic mass.
The ingredients for our life are now labeled Everything We Have To Do. Directions? Toss in blender. Puree. Dump into bowl. Smear on calendar.
You know what? It’s been a long time since I just went out and sat in the yard with my chickens.
I used to sit with chickens and feel the grass tickling the underside of my cross-legged lap, watching the chickens get braver and closer until they’d take the treat I’d brought with me from my fingers. They’d sit next to me and make happy noises. We’d sprawl out in the sun.
I’d look at the sky and contemplate life and ponder, with an exhale of deep contentment, how awesome my newfound simple life was.
All these years later, I’m the proud owner of a big red barn, more chickens than I can count, pigs that run around their pasture like dogs, and gardens sprawling over more square footage than my house.
This simple life? This life where we would get away from it all? Where somehow because the daily to-do list was “fulfilling”, we’d melt away into peaceful oblivion? It’s still busy. We still meet ourselves coming and going, it’s just that the things we’re doing in the middle look different.
Life, whether simple or not, fills with the required tasks of said life. It gets busy. Busy becomes normal. Normal becomes unappreciated.
We do this with everything, though. Babies. Husbands. Houses. Puppies. Jobs. What starts off as a magical adventure becomes an everyday part of life that we rush by. We’re comfortable with the fact that life happens and continues and goes on—rinse and repeat until the end of our time.
And all this time, my chickens keep pecking around the yard.
I give them food and water and hope they come in at night. I grab the eggs they give me like it’s nothing—those same eggs that as a new chicken owner, I checked for a gazillion times a day, because the whole concept that I could walk out to the chicken coop and collect a miraculous oval of awesome for my breakfast completely floored me.
Now it’s just normal. It’s everyday stuff. Things happen and we don’t see them happen.
I mean, we see them happen, we know they’re happening, but we don’t look. We don’t see. We don’t care.
Wait. We don’t care?
That’s what I’m saying. Do we care? And if we do, how would anyone else know?
And I know that life changes. I get that what we spend our time on morphs into familiarity. I understand that life looks different as we move through its time and space. We grow up, we get older. Things are less of a big deal.
But it’s been a long time since I sat with my chickens.
This is the part they don’t tell you—that the things we love and obsess over will someday become just another part of the process of getting through the day. And while comfort and familiarity are good, they often skew our perspective.
We generally know more the longer that we do something, but are we actually wiser? Sure, we get better at it, but do we appreciate the improvement? It’s like the realization that we speed through pages of type when we used to stop for every single word, sounding them out and feeling their shape in our mouth before they tumbled over our lips.
Is magic as magical if it happens every day?
I used to sit with my chickens.
The barn stands there, stoic and majestic, whether I take time to sit with the chickens or just toss food to them and run to the next thing.
I wonder what she thinks.
The hayloft windows, like two eyes set on a red wooden face, have been witness to everything—my transformation from inspired farm girl ready to take on the world to a gal with a farm who is just as busy and confused and worn out and stuck between knowing and not knowing and failure and success as every other person on this earth.
Chickens are simple. They want sun, a dust bath, bugs, and clean water.
Humans are infinitely more complicated. We want everything.
We joke about chickens having pea sized brains, but I sometimes wonder if our bigger brains just cause us bigger problems. You’d think a part of creation with such a large brain would be better at appreciating the blessings of every day.
The egg the chicken lays.
The seed that busts through the ground.
The sunrise that happens every. single. day.
Why can’t our giant brains grasp this? Why do we constantly have to be reminded to stop and look and feel and see and love?
And so today, I shut down my computer, I turn off my phone, and I put away my work. I grab the heel from a loaf of bread. I walk outside and I find a spot of grass and I sit.
Because it is good to sit with chickens.
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