Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Chickens add to our quality of life. Merry Christmas to all the chicken owners and their birds!

People like chickens. When I first started keeping a few in my suburban back yard in San Jose, California, heartland of Silicon Valley, the first thing many visitors said was a wistful, “I always wanted to have chickens.” When one chick unexpectedly grew up to crow, neighbors mentioned how charming it was to hear the sounds of the countryside.

Chickens attract the eye as well as the palate. Chickens are naturally pleasant to see. Some breeds are especially beautiful and have been bred specifically as ornamental birds. Poultry can decorate your estate, whether palatial or rustic.

They are excellent interpretive birds. Historically accurate flocks are kept at farm museums, such as Virginia’s Frontier Culture Museum, which keeps Dorkings on its 17th century English farm exhibit.

Chickens can be good therapy birds. Pat Foreman brings Oprah Henfry to nursing homes where she sits with the residents. They enjoy her peaceful company and soft feathers.

Chicken flock owners are widely diverse. Some keep a few and make pets of them. They aren’t cats or dogs, but can be delightfully personable. Their individuality adds the same sparkle to our lives that other animal companions do.

Those with more businesslike reasons for keeping chickens nevertheless enjoy their company and take pride in raising healthy, vigorous, beautiful chickens. They contribute to local economies and offer alternatives to industrialized agriculture.

The diversity of chickens speaks to the diversity of people. They touch us in profound ways. Jesus was inspired by the protection a mother hen gives her chicks: "...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

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