Indulge me. It’s Chicken Loving time again. Or more precisely, Hug a Chicken Day.
Yes, Hug a Chicken Day is a thing. I’ve had a job convincing Sean of this – he’s scoffed at me a lot but he gets the idea. It’s about honouring and, well, loving your chickens.
It’s quite timely because just last week we hit two years of keeping chickens and as we work in our garden, fending off chickens who, like curious toddlers, just want to help, we wonder what our garden felt like before there were chickens. A lot quieter, that’s for sure.
So when I read about the second annual Hug a Chicken day, hosted by wonderful chicken blogger Tilly’s Nest, I knew I had to join in. I did so by grabbing the first chicken who came near me after work and I set about hugging her with all my might, while also trying to take a self portrait.
This is no easy task. Depending on how you look at it, Shirley either won the prize or drew the short straw. Don’t worry. She was rewarded for her patience and for not leaving a nasty surprise on my leg (that’s happened before. It’s most unpleasant).
Six months into chicken keeping, I wrote an ode to my girls entitled Chicken Love. Nothing has changed. Well except for the tragic loss of dear Lady Catherine in July this year and the arrival of three new girls in August.
It’s been quite a ride. We’ve become well versed in the care and upkeep of chickens; we’ve learned about ways to manage a garden and co-exist with five creatures who think seedlings are there for their dinner; we’ve learned about the joy that is having other bodies, of the animal kind, to nurture and protect and we’ve eaten and given away more eggs than we thought possible. Five eggs, on average, a day really add up, you know!
Our brood is our delight. They are individuals, with characters and charm. Of the new girls, it’s Winifred who has most stolen our hearts. She’s the one who seems to most often look up to me, standing as she does by the back door, calling out to me. If there’s a chicken under foot, more often than not it’s Winifred, my lovely friendly hen who seems to want to be my best friend.
Yes, I’m anthropomorphizing. Just a bit. It’s allowed. It’s in the rules.
They’ve had such an impact that our developing garden plans now can’t happen without deep consideration of the chickens. They are a vital part, not just because their housing matters, but because I’ve learned to see that they are part of sustainable gardening. As I plan my crops, my composting, my long term plans for this large, sometimes overwhelming block, I know that how my chickens fit into the life cycle of urban gardening is just so exciting and valuable.
They’re part of the journey and I love them for that.
Hug a Chicken day is a way to acknowledge the importance and the value of these feathered dinosaur descendants and cherish the role they play as Pets with Benefits. Real, edible benefits in the form of golden yoked eggs – not to mention the sheer entertainment and magic.
I wanted Alice here today for a picture of her hugging a chicken but it wasn’t possible so I’ll grab one from a few weeks ago – taken the day she learned to feel ok with picking up a chicken. Again and again. Watching her growth as a chicken lover has been part of the fabulous journey.
Admittedly at this point her idea of hugging a chicken is more akin to strangling a chicken but they’re tough, they cope. Everyone’s happy as long as it’s a short cuddle.
In many ways they are her chickens too. She arrives and greets them. She leaves and bids them farewell. And when there are no eggs in the nest she declares ‘No eggs! Just poos!’ It’s become a catch cry, even when she’s not here.
Chickens are the best. Thanks Tilly’s Nest for such a fabulous event. I hug my chickens often, but I’ll celebrate on November 5.