Ode to Chickens: My Dream Girls

DSC_4840_7952LayersOPT“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful,
than a woman being unapologetically herself;
comfortable in her perfect imperfection.
To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”

~ Steve Maraboli

Henny-Penny

 

 

 

 

 

I Dream of Chickens

I love chickens. I think they are beautiful birds. In particular, though, while roosters are undeniably gorgeous, it’s the girls, the hens, I like to spend time woolgathering about. To have my own small flock of girls would be a dream come true. I’ve been infatuated with the idea of keeping a few laying hens for a long time now. But, unlike New York City, Calgary does not allow chickens. So, unless I move away from the city, dreaming about chickens is my only option (and not a bad one either–dreaming about chickens simply makes me happy).

 

Good Morning Girls!Happy Good Morning Sunshine

My lovely and vivacious sister-in-law, who grew up on a farm, and who well knows what it takes to raise chickens, flat out laughs at me when I wax poetic about my dream to have a few laying hens. She tells me, quite adamantly, that the reality of keeping chickens bears absolutely no resemblance to my romantic notions. I argue that I have no interest in raising a lot of chickens, I just want three or four happy girls, pets really. Who knows, she may be right—I’ve certainly never cared for a chicken or cleaned up chicken poop. My notion probably has all the practicality of a fanciful city girl, her head in the clouds, dreaming about the romance of country living.

Still, I like to believe that I’d love keeping a few girls. And since I specialize in fanciful thought, I can’t help myself: every now and again I indulge myself and step smack dab into the middle of a full-blown, colourfully detailed chicken scenario. I dream of quietly stealing out in glorious early morning light, padding silently through dew-dropped grass to greet the day and greet my girls. I know exactly what my hen-house will look like. I can feel the smooth, round shape and weight of each egg as I carefully lay them in my wicker basket. And when I call, Ruby, Germaine and Felicity all come running to greet me. Why not indulge? It’s free. It’s fun. And it makes me happy.

 

Chickens in Fine Art

My infatuation with chickens cannot be said to be fleeting. Early in my university days, I came across a print of Milton Avery’s White Rooster. I BlueChickenCR2.Medium203jpgadored that print—so whimsical with its blue tree, pinkish earth, two happy hens and a white rooster. The print was quite large, and I paid what was to me back then an enormous amount of money to have it properly framed. I laboriously lugged it around every time I moved (which was pretty much every couple of semesters for a number of years). I met my partner back then and he too fell in love with the print. He happily helped me centre it and hang it on a prominent wall in every place we ever lived in back in our happy-go-lucky vagabond days. That was many years ago and somewhere along the way I parted with it. I’m not sure exactly how or where or why I let it go, but some days I find myself wistfully wishing I hadn’t.

It turns out that chickens are not a very popular subject in fine art. I have no idea why. But Milton Avery must have had the same attraction to them as I, for he captured their essence so beautifully. Besides White Rooster, Avery also painted Chicken, No. 1 Chicken, and Two Chickensas well as others.

7251418200_f69cc3bce6_oOPT

Free Range Felicity

UNDERGROUND CHICKENS

The debate continues in urban centres: should chickens be allowed in the backyards of city dwellers? Some cities allow them, some do not. But one thing seems sure: regardless of the law, you simply can’t stop people from secretly keeping a few chickens on the sly:

 

LIVE HENCAM

HenCam is one of my favourite websites. It’s operated by Terry, a animal lover who lives in a small town west of Boston, Massachusetts. Terry shares her backyard animals with us via four live-streaming cameras which give us a peek into life in the henhouse and barn in Terry’s backyard, which is large enough to happily house a flock of chickens, two goats, a couple of dogs, and a rabbit.

For years now, thanks to Terry, I’ve been getting my fix of happy hens (and occasional goat antics), without having to clean up chicken poop. If you love chickens and goats, I highly recommend checking out HenCam(Keep in mind the time in Boston – if it’s after sunset there, the cameras will be dark.)

And, if I ever do get to have my dream girls, Terry’s amazing blog will be an invaluable source of chicken-keeping expertise. In the meantime, I’ll keep dreaming about my beautiful girls.

CHICKENS IN FILM

I can’t leave this post without mentioning my favourite chicken flick. Chicken Run is a delightful 2007 stop motion claymation film. It’s a humorous take on the 1963 film, The Great Escape. I love this film. It’s a wonderfully creative and fun film about ingenuity, persistence, hope and freedom. Watch it, laugh and let the girls inspire you!

 

 

Image Credits:

Brahma Bantam Hen, digital art by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2013 madlyinlovewithlife

Henny-Penny, illustration by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2009 madlyinlovewithlife

Good Morning Sunshine, illustration by madlyinlovewithlife;
© 2009 madlyinlovewithlife

Blue Chicken, illustration by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2014 madlyinlovewithlife

Free Range Felicity; collaborative digital art project by madlyinlovewithlife and MC; © 2012 madlyinlovewithlife & MC

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Ode to Chickens: My Dream Girls

  1. Wonderful thought Jeannie..We used to have chickens on the farm and your story brought back many memories for me…Looking after them was my first job on the farm..I think I was about 7 years old…They are actually quite entertaining to watch at times and you can’t beat farm fresh eggs…Two over easy every morning :)) Have a great evening my friend :) Sam.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your childhood memory, Sam. I’ve read that chickens are very entertaining and have definite personalities. And what a treat it would be to have farm fresh eggs every morning! Thanks for stopping by! :) ~ Jeannie

  2. First, I adore the picture at the top of your blog. It does cast the chicken in a favorable light. Second, is me LOLing my way through your first section. I must say that I’m somewhat in the camp with your sister-in-law. My wife is big on getting chickens and as we live in a rural area there is no issue with the getting. However, having made up our minds to grab a few girls, we abruptly changed them when a bear tore into our neighbor’s coup and ate all the chickens. Gone, not a feather left. So, at the moment the chicken has become more conceptual than realistic for us. Lastly, I should tell you, that we always had chickens growing up. The trick is to buy them once the sex is obvious, and not to fall for the cute little chicks, as there’s a 50% chance you’ll end up with ornery roosters. We had a few. And that is all I have to say, except that I enjoyed this post immensely. Keep at it my friend. :-)

    • I love your comment, David. Ha, ha… There definitely seem to be two distinct camps when it comes to chickens–and it seems that my camp may be in the minority. Still, I’ll keep dreaming… And thanks for the advice about not falling for the cute little yellow fluff balls only to later discover I have some roosters on my hands! I would have been tempted for sure. Thanks again. I loved reading your comment. :))

  3. Move to Hawaii and you’ll have all the (free for the taking) chickens you can handle. My kids and I had watched Chicken Run perhaps half a dozen times, too. And I’m glad your partner is not a chicken ‘cuz you’d ear him alive… I mean cooked. :-)

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