What I’ve Learned Watching Chickens
By Emmsie Sanders
I’ve always lived in the city, but not New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. Not that kind of city, but a small city, the kind you would consider bigger than a town.
I like the conveniences and choices that city living allows you – the variety of grocery stores, restaurants, theaters and the like – but I have never cared for the traffic or the general rudeness and impatience created by masses of people packed too closely together.
So, when I married this year and my new husband suggested we move to the country, I was all in!
In a strange way, this move from city to country was a return to my family roots. My grandmother was raised on a plantation with three brothers. They all attended a one-room schoolhouse taught by their aunt.
With the history of the United States being so recent, a lot of their history lessons were family stories passed down through oral tradition. The children had chores, helped with the harvest, and took care of the horses, mules, pigs, goats, cows and, of course, chickens.
Through my grandmother’s storytelling skills, I spent many hours of my childhood in the world of her childhood… dusty county roads, hot Arkansas summers, laundry hanging on the line and fresh-smelling linens dried by the breeze.
It was a time of cloth napkins and real silver. I am learning that there are reasons behind the norm of that old-fashioned culture. (Did you know that the metal silver kills bacteria?)
Country life affords a great luxury in today’s fast-paced, instant information society: time. There is time to wash and press cloth napkins, polish silver, plant seeds, and water gardens.
Living in a rural area fosters a sense of caring about the earth, maybe because you are more closely connected to it when you see grass and
trees instead of concrete and skyscrapers. I attribute some of this feeling that wells up inside me to my age and the nostalgia that one begins to feel when reaching the half century mark.
Life is simpler. Since my move, I have fallen in love with this lifestyle.
I have immersed myself in this new chapter of my life with all its new beginnings. With the hectic pace of city life behind me (Jeez, I sound like the theme song to “Green Acres”), I now have the time to reflect on what I am learning and ponder the meaning of all these new experiences.
I have time to write, time to think, and time to be quiet and still.
This spring, I planted my first vegetable garden and watched in amazement as the tiny hidden seeds appeared as seedlings and then matured into plants that yielded fruits and vegetables. It was like watching a miracle happen before my eyes. Absolutely breathtaking.
For my summer project, I built a chicken coop and ordered a variety of chickens that reportedly produced an assortment of different colored eggs. When I finished the coop I named it “The First Ladies Club” and decided to name my hens after the first ladies of the United States.
They hatched on the Fourth of July (I couldn’t have written it better!) and I received them via the USPS on my 50th birthday. With both my sons out of the nest, it was just what the doctor ordered to refill it!
Every day, I sit with them at least one hour. In my observations I have had time to bond with them, recognize each one and appreciate their emerging personalities. In watching them, I am learning a great deal about life in general.
Someday, I may move back to the city, but for now I’m content to build my own city, a city of citizen chickens and vegetable skyscrapers. I’m thinking about getting a pig next spring. I wonder what she will teach me?