What I Have Learned from my chickens - an essay for the APA newsletter

I fell in love with chickens about 3 years ago when I was 9. I was visiting a friend’s house and they had chickens, that was it, I was hooked. I asked my parents if I could get some chickens, but there was one problem we lived in an area where we couldn’t have chickens. So we did a bit of research. Our Animal loving neighbor Dorothy had a few ideas. Perhaps I could volunteer at a local barn owned by Julie P. She had about 50 chickens, rabbits, goats, ducks, goats and a turkey. I volunteered at Oak Valley Farm for about a year, cleaning out the cages, collecting the eggs, treating some birds for lice and scaly leg mites. Even after all of that work I was still fascinated by these birds.

Finally March passed into April. April is chick season! It was then that Julie asked if wanted to get chickens of my own. At that very moment I thought this must be what heaven is like! And my parents said, “Yes”. For the next few weeks I dreamt of the different types of birds I might like to get. I did a bit of research by calling around to see who was going to have chicks. Our favorite local Agway run by Dan was going to have Barred rocks, White Brahmas, Silver Laced Wyandotte’s, Americaunas, New Hampshire Reds, Golden Comets and Black Giants. On April 21 we went to Dan’s Agway with a little cozy box and picked out 12 birds. I couldn’t stop looking at them the entire ride home. I fell in love with them and became a vegetarian, as did my family. I began to do quite a bit of research about how hens are treated and raised. I have to say I have become quite active in trying to get my classmates and others to think about and know where they get their chicken meat, and to make sure the animals were ethically raised.

But chicken farming isn’t all great. Sometimes babies die and it is really hard to let go but you just have to move on. But for the most part I think chicken farming is more good than bad. When you think about the good things about chicken farming there are way more good than bad. Think about having farm fresh eggs every day, having your birds win the county fair, bringing your chickens in for school for a big research project, these are all fun right? And cleaning out their cages once a week and giving them food and water each day isn’t that bad plus you get used to it after a while.

What have I learned from my chickens? I have learned to be patient, what hard work is, what discipline is, that I am grateful, how hard it is to earn money and how to read the voices and body language of animals. Patience – I had to work and wait before I was able to get my birds, I have to be patient for them to grow and lay eggs. I have learned how to be very responsible and take care of my birds every day. Although all of the hard work has paid off to bring me my beautiful, healthy, prize winning chickens. I am grateful that my parents said yes, that my friends Dorothy, Dan, Julie, Lisa all have helped me with my chickens. Oh woah, hard work....imagine filling up a wheelbarrow with stinky chicken poop and having to haul it to the end of the orchard in knee deep snow to dump it. I do it because I really love my birds. One of my favorite things is understanding what my birds are saying to me even though we don't speak the same language, or maybe we do?

No comments: