Birds of a Feather



A big nor'easter is about to slam into Nova Scotia and since the temperature rose above zero Celsius, I decided this was the day to do my one farm chore, one I enjoy doing. 

I clean out my chicken coop once a week for two reasons:
1) We have 15 chickens. Chickens poop A LOT and they poop EVERYWHERE so I like them to have a clean floor and ramp and nest boxes as often as possible. 
2) I find it very calming to be in the coop with the chickens. My mind gets focused on a mundane, manual task and relaxes. The chickens squawk and berk and flap and dance around (in the winter, at least, when they can't be shooed outside because chickens don't like snow) and it's just their funny way of being companionable. I don't even mind when the rooster stands behind me in the small coop and suddenly crows. 

When I'm in the chicken coop, where it is quiet and calm (even with the voices of the chickens), and I'm shovelling up poop and shavings and tossing the shovelfuls in the wheelbarrow, when I feel my whole body relax, when I feel 

happy

because I'm in a place that is peaceful and fun and exactly where my heart belongs (the whole country living thing, not just a dusty, poopy chicken coop!), 
I always think of the opening of that famous Wendell Berry poem, "When despair for the world fills me.." 
In the poem, the narrator goes down the pond where the wild things are.
In my life, I go to the chicken coop because, as Berry says in the final line of The Peace of Wild Things, "I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." 

~ SJ

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