Living Lightly in the Body: Life with Chickens
This year, 2019, marks my 10-year anniversary of having chickens in my animal family. I wanted to have chickens for many, many years…when I moved to the southwest, I finally lived in an area where I could have them. I began with a small flock of 4 bantam chickens, one of whom, Daphne, is still with me, holding the current record for my oldest hen.
I am now living in my 4th home where I’ve had my chickens (yes, I’ve moved them every time I’ve moved), and I continue to find such delight and joy in sharing my life with them.
My chickens are often teachers in my animal communication classes, and people love connecting with them and learning from them. My silkie rooster, Pierre, has proudly just finished his “teaching duty” in my Beginning Animal Communication Online Class, and it’s been so much fun for me to share him with my students.
New Hens Join the Flock
This spring, I decided that I wanted to bring some new hens into my small flock. I set the intention and began looking for them, trusting that the right hens would find me, and I them, when the time was right.
Just a few weeks ago, we found each other, and my new girls came home and joined the flock. They are all 1 year old, and were raised by a teenage girl who showed them. I’m happy to introduce them to you! Each of them has her own personality, spiritual awareness, and special joy. I said to a friend recently that living with these hens is like living with a group of fairy-queens. I’m head-over-heels in love with them. 🙂
Callie (AKA Cuddle Bug)
I’m loving getting to know the “new girls”, and watching them discover a new life of dust baths, tasty treats, free run of the barn and chicken enclosure, and working out the pecking order with the “big girls.”
One of the beautiful lessons that chickens teach me is about living lightly in the body. Although I’ve had chickens live to be 9, 10, 11 years old, the average lifespan of a chicken is around 4-5 years. Chickens, like many birds, tend to leave their bodies quickly, and usually quite easily. Each death is a loss, and I grieve and honor each transition.
This week, just as I was writing this post, my sweet hen, Mixie, slipped gently into the spirit world. Mixie joined my family in 2015; I wrote about her in this post: Communicating with Chickens.
I knew Mixie was slowing down; a vet check a few months ago didn’t identify any particular cause. She was simply aging, moving more slowly, sleeping more. I often called Mixie “Mixie Pixie”…she was my smallest hen. From the beginning, she accepted being held, cuddled, and kissed.
She would often jump up onto my shoulder, arm, or sometimes my head as I fed the chickens in the mornings. One of the ways that chickens examine and discover the world is through their beaks; Mixie’s most famous “antic” was the time she was checking me out and picked my contact lens out of my eye. 🙂 My eye was fine…the contact, however, did not survive.
The day before she died, I spent some extra time with Mixie. I picked her up and gently held her, kissed her, and stroked the soft feathers of her neck. I told her how much I loved her, how much I appreciated her, how grateful I was for the time we’ve had together and for her presence in my family.
The next morning, when I came out to feed the chickens, Mixie was gone.
I buried her in the “Chicken Memorial Garden”, next to her friend Chloe, under a pine tree near my front entry. As I offered prayers and songs for her, my cat Louie joined the ceremony.
As I gathered stones and lilac blossoms for her grave, Mixie’s spirit surrounded me. She flew all around me, light and joyful; she showed me that she had merged with the butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and the faery-family (nature spirits) who live on our land. She communicated that she had lifted out of her body gently and and quickly…and that she would remain close for awhile at least as she played with the other light beings around our home.
I wept soft tears as I honored and remembered Mixie, and the sweet times we’d shared together. She was sometimes fierce, she was often funny, and she was also generous, kind, tolerant. She showed these traits both to me, and to her flock.
Life and death…death and life…living lightly in the body. Bodies come and go…as I remember this teaching, I feel Mixie’s spirit all around me.
Fly free, Mixie Pixie. And thank you. Thank you, for everything.