I’ve been thinking lately that it is time to stop raising chickens. It seems a good time for me to make such a large change as it is fall. Fall is a natural time for letting go, for purging the unnecessary from life, for making room for something new. With the descent of winter, I will be spending less time in the garden. The rains will wash away the old detritus of the year. As I live more fully in sync with the seasons, I am able to recognize the ebb and flow of my life and allow it to unfold without getting in the way.
We first got chickens when my son, Yo’el, was nine. A friend brought a pet chicken to school one day and he was completely enamored. Ofer and I had been wanting to get chickens for years, so it was finally time. In a short period of time, it became clear that these were more than pets, they were comforters. During times of upset, the first thing that Yo’el would do is run to the back yard and watch the chickens. Years later, I asked him why he did that and he said that their sounds were comforting and helped him feel better.
Now, it has been thirteen years of raising chickens. We’ve raised four flocks or so and had times of both abundance and heartache as they laid excessively or not enough to keep us fed, and over time, they died. It became a way of life for our family.
It also became part of our public image. We have been known for our “urban farm” environment by people who come to our place for healing. I know a number of farmers and we do not have an urban farm. The life of a farmer is far more difficult and devoted to the ongoing process of sowing, harvesting, death and renewal.
We have created a sacred space that includes animals. All forms of life are valuable and we want to share the healing benefits of nature with everyone who steps into our world. We are also devoted to the ongoing process of sowing, harvesting, death and renewal, in a broader sense, in terms of the spirit and the creation of a healthy lifestyle.
We, too, feel that the chickens are a valuable part of our sacred space. So, you may ask, why are you now getting rid of them? Well, the truth is that much as we sometimes resist it, things change over time. We are currently in times of change.
When we first got chickens, it was hard to find healthy, free-range eggs in markets. We have always been committed to eating the freshest foods, so raising our own chickens made sense. Since then, the farmers have responded and are now offering reasonably priced, free-range eggs in our local markets. And we love to support the local farmers, so one more way to do that is to buy their eggs.
Our son is now almost 23 and he may fly the coop at any time. Over the last few years, he has been less interested in the chickens and helps with them only because I asked him to and he’s a helpful guy.
I, too, am changing and finding that without a child running around the place, there is less that holds me here. I am letting go of old dreams and looking at expanding my activities. I am stepping back out into the world which includes more frequent travel. In 2016, so far, I have six trips planned. That sort of travel hasn’t happened in many years. When I am gone, the animal care falls to Ofer, who wouldn’t have animals if he lived on his own. So, you see, there is a ripple effect as times change.
The ease with which I found someone to adopt the entire flock of chickens is a sweet validation that this is the right decision. A Big “Thank You!” to Heather Thomason of Goat Girl Farm for taking them and providing a good new home.
As I said earlier, after the winter I will be ready to plant something new in this sacred space of the Sugi Garden. I don’t know yet what it will be. Maybe it will begin to reveal itself in the darkness of my internal reflections this winter. Winter is the time of my birth so it is an especially auspicious time for me to pull forward a new direction to move towards.
Eggs are an age-old symbol of spring. We will continue to have eggs in our lives to feed us, inspire creativity and growth. And with the beautiful eggs raised by the organic farmers, you will still be able to enjoy our Sunday brunches and homemade ice creams. Spring will bring a feeling of freshness and renewal, a time for hope and possibility. Let’s let go of what no longer serves us and open up to the possibilities that lie ahead.