Andy Schneider, better known as The Chicken Whisperer, described some of the benefits of raising a backyard chicken flock in a recent Murray McMurray newsletter. I would like to explore some of the reasons for growing chickens in more depth.
Raising chickens, like gardening and many other homesteading activities allow us to participate in something that supports and sustains life. Food is, obviously, essential to life, and raising a flock of chickens is a way to raise food that is within the reach of many of us.
When we participate in doing something that is essential to life, many positive things start to happen. For one, we derive a sense of meaning, fulfillment, and purpose from it that exceeds and transcends what we experience in doing non-essential activities. It also deepens our relationship with others, particularly with our children. If you have young children and a backyard flock, you may have already discovered that many children like nothing better than to go see the chickens and help take care of them.
As our children help us care for the chickens, they learn to not just focus on their own wants and needs but become aware of and sensitive to the needs of something outside of themselves, the chickens. These needs include proper food, clean water, proper housing, dry litter, protection from extreme heat and predators. They also learn that living creatures need continual care. Just because you fed the chickens yesterday doesn’t mean that you can take off today and tomorrow. This teaches them a sense of responsibility. Some may say, “well that’s just chickens”, but the care, sensitivity, responsibility, and reliability that they learn (and we learn) in caring for the chickens will spill over into every other area of their lives also, and will help them care better for their children or perhaps an aging parent or grandparent as they grow older.