Chicken Window


Morning notes from a farmer:

March 23, 2013

A beautiful sky of pale blue, with soft grey, pink, and white clouds faces me out the window. I face it.  The window to my left shows only grey.

It is the time of year when I want to be scheduled.  Take care of Beth things by 6am.  Then dishes. Then chores. Then, Then, then…    With the start of sunlight illuminating the clouds before me and my still typing, I’m already late.

This morning I’m trying to remind myself that my clock is only my own.  I won’t get everything done that I’d like.  We’ll eat dinner, go to sleep, and face another day.  From where have I created so much self importance in this farm life that I feel the need to be productive all of the time?  Is it a question of ego?  Do I feel so small in this big farm world of living that I try to make myself bigger by constantly trying to control the fluttering life around me?

As I type I notice my toes curled under me.  I’m holding myself in.  If I relax and stretch my feet will I feel more grounded to the truth?  At this moment is it the idea of control that keeps me trapped in myself?  I tense further, as I try to understand my place in the control.  I curl myself in to protect myself from the vastness of the farm and my truth, and then explode out in a response of lists, to-do’s, manipulation, dominance.  I’ll feed the chickens at 7am, I’ll plant seeds in neat 50 cell grids, I’ll store my carrots at 34 degrees fahrenheit and if it gets too warm in that carrot storage box (that I’ve built out of lumber and foam and plastic, materials of man), I’ll turn on the cooling unit.  It it gets too cold, there is a space heater plugged in.  

Would those carrots taste better if I stored them in a hole in the earth?  Would they still be firm this time of year?  Or would they be soft and hairy, starting to send up leaves, preparing to go to seed, biennials that carrots are – with a true nature of only surviving through the winter with enough energy in that root to send up a flower in it’s second season and produce seed.  Is our great supply of firm, delicious, carrots a sign that my dominance is a good thing?

Today a man will arrive in a vehicle from Pennsylvania with 400 pullets for us.  These are four month old chickens that in the next few weeks will start laying small eggs, and over the next month and a half will work their way from their “teenage” years to adult chicken-hood, and a steady supply of full sized eggs.  We already have 800 chickens in the barn, two groups of different ages, and one set are definitely elders.  This new batch will assure us a continual supply as we move into summer.  

The birds will run free upstairs, but first they have to get there.  The question I have this morning is if these chickens will be carried up to the third floor of our barn (the big, bright, airy chicken penthouse) in the crates they arrive in (about 12 birds per crate), or will we take them out of the crates in the vehicle and carry the birds by hand (two or three sets of feet grabbed in each hand)?  If the plan is to take them up in their crates, I cannot carry them, and my job will be to unload them once they are upstairs.  I will make myself feel guilty for having not done the heavy lifting up the two flights of stairs. If we take them out of their crates and carry them in small groups, I can run up and down the stairs (and we do run.. part of that proving ourselves thing) just like the men.  Now enters ego into that self designed clock.  And it is not my voice, it is that of the men involved in the chicken moving party, that decides what happens.  I’m out numbered two against one.  It matters to me to be seen as an equal to my larger framed male counterparts, but does it matter enough for me to raise my voice and say, “Hey, let’s carry the birds up without their crates?”  to buck the system of allowing the men to make this decision.  

My awareness returns to my feet.  One of my feet covers the other and my toes curl again at the thought of playing out my desires in the chicken moving game.  But why not?  Wouldn’t the men like to share the job of carrying?  Will their egos allow them to not lift as heavy of a load?


I can now see the sun in the window frame.  My writing has me sitting long past my scheduled clock.  The dishes still wait.  My morning animal chores wait.  The lists that I made last night wait.  


I’m thinking about how often I look up to the sky.  Often.  I love it’s big open expanse and continual change in energy.  This big sky is the direct contrast to this little farm world, where we run around, bring in the ego, bring in control, dominance, all in the effort of creating healthy food.


However the chicken moving game plays out.  However successful I am at regaining ground on today’s lists, perhaps now I’ll do so with an added consciousness when I look to the sky, aware that my look upward is balancing the ego that is running around below.






  1. How beautifully you have captured the toe-curling clutches of the ego that we all face in some form or another everyday. May we all remember to periodically look up to the sky in awe. Thank you, Beth!

  2. How beautifully written! And I love the metaphor of the enormity of the sky and the simplicity and insignificance of our individuality. Nonetheless, our ego is sometimes necessary to get the job done, right? May we live long enough to culture the practice of balance.

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