Do your friends send you links to anything and everything chicken they see on Facebook? Do they tease you about your chickens? Do your friends laugh when you mention things like house chickens, chicken swings, and homemade chicken treats? Do you ever try to sneak chickens into the coop, hoping your husband or significant other won’t notice? Do you need people to hold you back during “chick days” at all the local feed shops? Do you have more pictures of your chickens than your family on your phone?
If you answered yes to more than a couple of these questions, chances are you are a “crazy” chicken lady–or guy. But I put the “crazy” in quotation marks because I really think it’s a relative term. I’m not sure how loving an animal that is funny, entertaining, highly intelligent, and gives you breakfast every day is “crazy,” but, sadly, it’s a label many of us are stuck with.
I’ve been called a “crazy chicken lady” more than once, and it used to bother me a little. I like to think I’m “quirky,” but I wouldn’t consider myself “crazy.” However, I’m not going to lie. Getting chickens changed me as a human being.
I was raised in a culture that taught me that farm animals were “dumb” and that chickens were the worst. I was raised in a culture where we purchased our meat in neat little packages at the grocery store, and I never gave an ounce of thought about where the eggs in the grocery store came from.
But, as I grew older, I began to realize the truth of things, and I read a lot about the conditions animals in our food industry must live in. I wanted my husband and I to raise more of our own food. Thankfully, he was completely on board and had grown up on a homestead in Montana. But I had so much to learn.
The first day our chicks arrived, I was in love. I can’t fully explain it, but my life was changed by those animals. Over time, I would learn how intelligent and interesting chickens are, and I became fascinated with them—in part, I think, because I had been taught something so completely opposite of the truth.
This fascination with chickens has, over time, led to an amazing appreciation of them. Chickens are beings with feelings and thoughts, and though we certainly have differences and a very big language barrier, we can communicate some. I still eat chicken, but I am respectful of them from birth to death and thankful when I eat meat of any kind, I mean truly thankful.
I also realize I have so much more to learn. I’m currently taking a class in chicken behavior, and I read a lot about the best ways to care for chickens. I also talk to my chickens, hang out with them when I can, and thank them every night for their eggs. The more I am around them, the more I learn, and I certainly have a strong curiosity about them.
Does that make me a “crazy” chicken lady?
I recently saw a woman post a question to a Facebook chicken forum about how her friends make fun of her for being a “crazy” chicken lady. Was she really “crazy”? she asked. I could tell the poking fun really bothered her, and I could certainly identify. Thankfully, she was in the right place. In the chicken forum, both men and women offered her support and told her not to worry about what other people think.
And there’s so much wisdom in that. I mean, who gets to define “crazy”?
Chickens were domesticated by humans 8,000 years ago, so we’ve been raising chickens for a very long time. It’s only in recent history that factory farming culture has begun to shape our ideas about chickens and chicken intelligence. It only makes good sense to me that we’re getting back to our roots and making connections to the animals that feed us.
To me, raising chickens for eggs or meat in environments where their little chicken feet never touch grass, where they are inundated with artificial light their whole lives, and where they are crowded into tight spaces that makes them aggressive and stressed is what’s really “crazy.”
And that’s my two cents from this “quirky” chicken lady.