Our hens have had quite a few visitors in the past week. Mia visited on a research mission for a book she's writing. We talked about why we wanted to get chickens in the first place, and how it's changed the way we see ourselves, our food and our community. Andrew & I agreed that taking care of chickens has brought us closer to where our food comes from. This is obviously literal (they're making eggs right outside the kitchen window), but also metaphorical in that we're more likely to think about what goes into making food. As a vegan (except our ladies' eggs), our chickens make me even more concerned about how industrial agriculture robs people and animals of the joy that comes from living near each other. I can't imagine Sally or Joan or Peggy living in a tiny cage with wilted combs and no life except eating antibiotic-laden feed and over-laying. But I also worry about the people who have to work in those terrible conditions, becoming enured to the suffering they're surrounded by on a daily basis.
So there's that. But there's also the fact that caring for outdoor animals brings us more in touch with the seasons, more in touch with what we choose to put on or leave off our lawn (chemicals, etc), more in touch with how the chicken's diet changes the way their eggs look and taste. Having chickens has also brought us closer to how people used to do things. My grandpa grew up on Beck street in the 1910s and 1920s. Back then everybody had chickens. It was an obvious way to supplement meager immigrant diets. Everybody knew that keeping a few hens was no big deal. Now-a-days, people think it must involve some insurmountable challenge because they no longer have models of neighbors who are making it work. Having chickens has shown us that we can have chickens.
Has anybody else done something food-related that changed the way you see yourself in your world? For example, I was inspired by a friend's thriving volunteer tomato patch last week. They didn't even plant them - the tomatoes just reseeded from last year! That is, after all, how plants work, but I'd kind of forgotten that.
Anyway, Mia's project sounds cool. We'll post more when we know more!
She took one of the few (the only?) pictures we have of both Andrew & I together with the chickens. Here we are with Peggy. She's the only one brave enough to sit still for a photo.
Last night Tammy, Ken & Eva visited. Eva's an awesome 10 year old thinking about getting some chickens of her own. She was inspired, as were we, by the amazing diversity of chickens at the fair. The bantams were my favorite. Eva liked the Polish hen show-girls. Too bad we don't have an active 4-H program in Columbus - though Eva may end up finding whichever chapter is closest. I didn't know until a few days ago that 4-H is run through the OSU Extension offices. So much cool stuff comes out of the Extension offices. It's a shame that their budgets are shrinking away so quickly! I can't wait to have some kids that I can lure into 4-H. In fact, I not only want 4-H in Columbus, I want it for adults. Then I can finally learn how to care for those goats I've been wanting (just kidding (mostly)).