I recently gave away all my chickens. I thought about it for over a month and realised it would be the best thing for us at the moment but part of me really didn't want to do it. It wasn't without a drama, I must say. It sounds so silly but even though I knew it was for the best (for many reasons), a part of me felt like a failure and went to bed in tears after I gave them away. Another important fact, is that they were a gift from my father (my husband says that only my side of the family arrives with livestock as gifts- funny man) and that was the worst of it.
Looking after things comes so easily to him and my mother... people (someone would pop in at our home during mealtime and the house is a mess, no problem, pull up a chair and tuck in), animals (driving an hour to feed my chickens when I was away, easy), plants (he makes everything grow and grow). They are proper hospitable country folk. My chickens were one of our common denominators and I felt like I had unknotted a thread between my generation and theirs.
When I read this passage in 'A peaceful retirement' it summed it up beautifully...
Bob Willet appeared one evening that week, bearing some fine eating apples. 'They're good keepers,' he assures me. 'Lovely flavour.' I complimented him on such fine specimens, but he halted me in mid-flow of thanks and admiration.
'They're my neighbour's. New chap just moved in. Nice enough, but don't know a thing about gardening.'
'He'll learn I expect.'
'I doubt it. Do you know he's bin and dug up a great patch by the back door for what he calls "a car-port". It was the only bit of ground there as grew a decent onion. Enough to break your heart. I told him so when the cement-mixer arrived. D'you know what he said?
'He said that there was plenty of onions in the shops! The shops!' added Bob in disgust.
'He may learn.'
'Never! He just don't have no interest in living things... he's so strange, you know. Like a foreigner.'
My parents were very gracious about me giving up the chickens even though they probably did think my reasons a bit foreign. The things of the earth... living things give them vigour and bring sanity in a ever-changing world.