A few days ago a co-worker at my part time job asked me if I could take some extra chickens because she needs to rehome them. My first thought was of course! Help my friend? Get some free chickens? Awesome! More eggs? Yes! But in the back of my mind I was also thinking, this person is not likely to follow through with this, so likely not going to happen. However today, the person currently holding the chickens came in and followed up! I found myself caught in a whole new wave of feelings and had to step back to see the old heart-brain trick of anticipated and realized fears.
Anytime that we are hit with the unknown boat loads of anticipated fears can show up. I have never kept chickens before, I have no idea how to introduce new chickens to the group, this is all new to me. So just wave after wave of fears came up: what if his chickens have a disease and they all die? What if they’re mean to my birds that I’ve raised since they were chicks? What if we just don’t have fun in the barnyard anymore because his chicks are mean? In other words; What if literally anything becomes different than what I’m used to right now because this is all I believe I can handle and I want to control everything please? Anticipated fears can sink the ship of progress. It makes you hesitate and close your heart space down rather than opening your heart and expanding into something new.
My little flock of chickens is small peanuts when it comes to stopping yourself from making a change to something new. It took me an extra year to get the guts to move back to Michigan because I was afraid of losing things and how hard it would be. Spoiler alert—I lost those things anyway and it has been hard but along side of that I have a freedom and so much new peace and love in my life it was all worth it. A few years ago I hurt my knee really bad and I waited so long before I pushed myself back into the gym because I anticipated that I was going to be weak and in pain forever. Once I got back in there I went slow at first but that round of small group training got me in the best shape of my life and helped me heal the identity crisis which comes with an injury that stops you from being yourself.
I have rarely had an experience or change that while I was anticipating horrible things in it’s beginning, that did not end up leaving me opened and expanded even after that initial closing down. Having this farm and these barnyard animals pushes my limits on control and wanting to protect everyday. That’s a good thing for me. I am still a recovering perfectionist and controller. I still have to meditate weekly on letting people or things go; I cannot control everything. I may feel attached to my chicks but at any moment a racoon could come and have himself a snack. That’s just the way of the barnyard. These are my egg laying birds but I plan to raise meat birds and I will thin the flock when the birds stop laying eggs as well. Am I going to have to find ritual around killing them? Yes. Will I probably still cry? Yes. But it’s the way of life I believe in and want to walk the walk. So do some anticipated fears around loosing my perfect little flock of chickens make me want to stop everything? Yes of course! But is it all going to change anyway whether I do this or not? Yes of course!
So you go back to weighing out the situation. How much space does each chicken need? It could be months before my birds lay eggs, and these are already laying which would be nice. Am I ok with more mouths to feed? If I pay for a month of gym classes and my knee hurts to bad will that money loss break me? If I take this new job and I do hate it, what are my options? If I did stop eating fast food for lunch everyday, what would I realistically be able to make for lunch everyday? Where will I sit and eat? You have to learn to quiet the knee jerk anticipated fears and look to the real issues. Lots of things in your life might be better if you do make the change, but you have to be willing to face the fears inside your heart-brain to get started and then face to REAL fears or issues that might come up. It’s hard. But life continues to change even if we do nothing, so you might as well at least start down a path that you choose and then take it as it comes.
So I said I would take 4-5 more chickens. I think that is an ok number for the space I have and it will fit my current needs while also helping some friends out. Since this farm has such a different cadence of life and death we try to set our intentions on quality of life, not quantity of life (which is super applicable to yourself too; you might die next week, why not live the shit out of this week??) so I feel like I am a very good chicken guardian. There are lots of snacks and laughs (again, also super applicable to yourself too). I hope that I learn a little bit about chicken flocks in all of this, maybe get to eat some eggs finally, and I hope it supports my end goal for this land of providing fresh food for myself and my sisters family. What are you going to go for this week? Go for it! Get the chickens!!!
Stories, projects, and ideas from office to farm. Be well! Dr. J