Many years I’ve spent feeding and watching chickens, from chicks to hens or roosters. Silly birds, peck at tiny specks on walls, each other or my shoes. They roll in the dirt, looking like an old dishrag, ecstatically flipping grains of sand into their feathers, to get rid of tiny mites. It seems like the air is infused with a special calm, when all the chickens gather at the water bowls to drink.
My children loved to hold the young chickens, and bring them food. They liked to be the one to carry the scrap bucket out to the chicken yard, or to catch bugs for them to eat. My daughter carried a bantam hen around when she was little. She had to say good bye to her before school in the mornings.
Life changed, as it always does. For a while we lived in places not zoned for chickens. All the leftover food was reassigned to either the garbage, the compost pile or the garbage disposal, which I began to call, The Electric Chicken.
The Electric Chicken could not accommodate much more than the last bits of food on
plates after meals. It seemed wasteful to throw away broccoli stems, lettuce cores, leftover sandwich bits and popcorn that the chickens used to gobble up.
Life goes on, and again we have a place where chickens are allowed. The children are grown up. The new chickens continue to brighten my days. They roll in the dirt and peck everything. They keep the coddling moths out of the apple trees. They jump to catch them. Their bustle-like fannies wobble as they scratch the ground and then step back to snack on the bugs they uncover.
The air is again infused with the special calm when the chickens gather in a circle around the water bowls, to get a drink of fresh, cold water. They are much better than The Electric Chicken.