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Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens

Who would have thought the simple act of raising chickens could raise your consciousness, expand your sense of self, and strengthen your connection to the Earth? I sure didn’t… until I read this article by Chelsea Green’s own Makenna Goodman, blogger, community-builder, and outlaw farmer.

From The Huffington Post:

I’ve been raising laying hens for about a year, and I’ve never been happier. I have fresh eggs whenever I want them (which is always), I have become more in tune with myself in relation to the land, and I’ve come to love chickens for all their neurotic, pecking glory. I will never go back. If I were still living in New York City, I’d raise them there. I’d take over an empty lot and farm eggs for the neighbors. And so, I stand on my soapbox, in a plea to anyone who’s ever thought about farming, to start by raising some hens. I. Beg. Of. You. It’s the stepping stone to self worth. Not to mention pretty easy, fun, and the first mounting of the molehill towards homesteading … if that’s your goal. But most of all, it might make you enjoy life just a wee bit more.

Alright so I’m not god, and you don’t have to believe me. In fact, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “Hey you, yet another organic-crazed fundamentalist preaching the ways of the prairie hippie to all who sleep near the mountain of flowers and compost and flowing rivers of soy.” But if you raise hens, or if you’ve ever visited a friend who raises hens, or if you’ve lived vicariously through people who’ve written about raising hens … then you have to admit there is a shred of truth in this.

So, how did raising laying hens make me happier?

Richard Wiswall, a fellow (and much more experienced!) farmer in Vermont, and author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, speaks well on the issues of true sustainability…which first and foremost means doing what you believe in, and then acquiring the skills you need in order to make a living from that (partly, or wholly):

Happiness is something we all strive for. I define happiness, in simple terms, as getting what you want. If this is true, it sounds easy enough. In reality, however, happiness can be quite elusive. Getting what you want may not be that easy, mostly because we don’t have a clear grasp on what exactly it is that we want. What we truly want is not a new tractor or late-model pickup truck. Wants need to be defined as deeper, value-based goals–things that are held very dear, such as family, creativity, leisure, health, or economic security.

What I wanted when I moved from New York City to a farm in rural Vermont, was to get to a deeper part of myself where I wasn’t consumed by materialism and a want for disposable goods that would feed my ego in the short run, but not sustain my soul. I think a lot of people feel this way, to be honest. Like, one can buy their morning latte, but when I invested in an old-time manual coffee grinder from the 50s and nailed it to my wall, I owned my own coffee experience in a new way. I realized the difference. When I wake up, the first thing I do is not consume, it’s create. And for me, that daily ritual has changed everything.

Read the whole article here.


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