At The Equine Connection, we have one chicken who roams the property. She wanders from the hay barn, to the arena, to the wood shed, to the other hay barn, as well as to other places I am unaware of. She is completely content on her own, and highly independent.
Here is the history I am aware of. She used to live in a chicken coop with a few other chickens. They would often roam around the property during the day, and then at night they would return to the coop. Unfortunately, the local coyotes would regularly consume one of the flock. Eventually only two chickens remained.
One day our free spirited chicken disappeared. The remaining friend was visibly, and palpably sad. I re-homed the remaining chicken to Kate Tooke’s property to live with her colourful flock. There, our old chicken lived out her life in the companionship of others of her kind.
About three weeks after disappearing, our free spirited chicken returned to the property unharmed. The coyotes had obviously not had her for dinner. Interestingly, she did not return to the coop. She settled herself into the hay barn and spent much of her daytime around the covered arena. She was clearly very happy with her own company – unlike her old friend.
She has been living like this for at least three years! So, in addition to her independent nature, she enjoys longevity. During these past three years, I have tried to pinpoint the chicken’s role and what metaphors she represents. I have tried to understand what she has to teach us humans. What I have come up with is that she sprinkles the energy of fertility around, reminding us that life is rich in possibilities. She seems to be saying: “Get excited about all the possibilities for your daily life. Jump into the opportunities that arise.” As David Whyte talks about, meaningful living requires wholeheartedness – from ourselves, in how we engage with others, and with all aspects of the world. Our chicken embodies this very well!
She also seems to be daring us to dig deeper. Each time I see her scratching at the dirt, as well as in the piles of horse manure, I imagine she is asking us to look under the surface to find real sustenance. Meaningfulness is not found in the facade. It is inside. Just like we are not what we look like on the outside. We are far more complex than that. “A person’s beauty is sophisticated and sacred and is far beyond image, appearance or personality.” (from ‘Beauty’ by John O’Donohue) So, whether it is in relationship with ourselves, or with others, we need to engage, question, and examine our inner worlds and the feelings that surface. It is always illuminating to discover an inner jewel while examining the ‘dirt’ of everyday life.