Monday, November 26, 2012

Finding Balance

Simplicity in the midst of complexity.

It has been a long while since I’ve written, but I promise to try to get back on track with a posting once a week. I returned to full-time work in September, and in some ways found it hard to write about the hens. I missed them, and it was difficult for me to think too intently about M&L, the gardens, and the hens at home. Not writing about them was perhaps a form of self-preservation. Or avoidance.

But as time has passed, I realize that though I miss M and L, giving them a little more space for self-reliance and independence is a good thing. I missed being there to pick them up from school, but I really enjoyed heading off to work as well. Was it OK to be happy to have that time away, doing my own thing?

I’m not sure the chickens notice my absence. They still come running when I step outside, which warms my heart, but as usual, they go about their business and ignore me once I scatter scratch or give them treats.

Over the last few months, the pecking order in the flock shifted and changed. Pearl suddenly seems to be the low hen on the totem pole, with Clover hopping on her back and pecking the top of her head from time to time. K says that Clover has had her fill of Pearl’s “Queen of the Fair talk.” She earned a blue ribbon, but it appears that doesn’t carry much weight with the ladies. Clover especially seems intent on being the boss hen.

Luna, the fragile blue orpington pullet we got in July, was still not walking well, and when I found her light body in the coop one morning before work, I wasn’t surprised. Saddened, but in a way relieved. I’d known it was coming and didn’t really want M&L to discover her.

And so we have a flock of seven, of whom only three seem to be laying regularly. Pip, the Ameraucana, started laying her lovely blue-green eggs after I started back to work, and has been very business-like about it. We have a nice steady supply of her pretty eggs. Thelma and Louise, the Australorps, are laying fairly regularly, so we typically get about two eggs daily.

The other hens – Violet, Pearl, Clover, and Oreo – seem to be on sabbatical. They still work industriously in the garden, picking the last bits of green from the beds, taking care of any bugs or worms, and fertilizing the beds, but it’s been months since any of them produced an egg. K says it’s like they are all on chicken social security. I know that in a more serious flock, they’d have been culled for stewing, but I can’t bring myself to do so. They are more than a food source for us.

They are touchstones, and their personalities and quirks fit together. I sometimes get home early enough to visit them in the evening. And on weekends I sit down for a bit and just watch them, and it is a meditative act for me. They go about their usual business. And that calm and continued routine brings me balance. I do love my job, but I can still come home and spend time with M&L, connect with the hens, and putter around the coop.  Chickens are good for grounding, for centering, and they lend richness to life with their simplicity.