Posted on May 16, 2019
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Everyone should have a house chicken! Chickens are independent and always active, so it is very easy to believe they are not smart or affectionate, but getting to know Peggy, has proven quite the opposite! She is extremely observant and doesn’t miss a thing. Often, she will hear a car pulling up long before the dogs do. She watches television with us, always wants to know what we are eating, and she greets us with the most adorable sounds, as opposed to people she does not know. And when I’m out of town and FaceTiming with my kids, she is the only animal in the house that recognizes my voice, gets excited to hear me, and talks with me over the phone! I FaceTime just as much with Peggy when I’m away as I do with my kids! She loves granola cereal, banana ice cream, and tofu. When I’m eating quinoa, veggies, and tofu, she'll pick out the tofu from my dinner and leave me none. And she’ll yank a peanut butter sandwich right out of my hands! She gets very excited about popcorn and won’t stop chirping until we give her some. When she is in her wheelchair having dinner, and she poops, she’ll squawk to let me know to clean it up. And when she is outside enjoying the beautiful day with her many wild bird friends, and she wants to come inside, she hops to the back steps and bawk-bawks to let me know. She is so smart!
Peggy was born with only one usable leg. Her difference scared her people and they brought her to be euthanized. The veterinarian explained that she can live a perfectly nice life hopping, but they didn’t want her. Thankfully their vet was our vet and he called us to take her. Peggy knew no one in our barnyard at first and she felt threatened by the others, so she took refuge under our turkey Nalla, who was happy to oblige. Nalla and Peggy soon became inseparable, eating, sleeping, and living together. When Peggy was scared or cold, she would always duck under Nalla and seek comfort and warmth. After a few years, the barnyard became too harsh of an environment for Peggy. But we didn’t want to separate them. Just as we were trying to figure out a solution, Nalla passed away in her sleep of a heart attack, allowing us to bring Peggy into the house. The change was confusing at first, but Peggy soon learned to love the upgrade. She eats in the kitchen along with us and the dogs. She loves oatmeal and cereal. She has learned that very yummy things come out of the fridge, so each time we open the doors, she stretches her neck as far as it will go so she can have a look at what we are eating. We always offer her some and for the most part, she loves everything. She loves trips in the car, going to the park with the dogs, and has her very own chicken bedtime ritual where we sing to her as she falls asleep each night.
Peggy will live in our house and be part of our family for the rest of her life. She will be loved, cared for, and treasured like our dogs. We are already so madly in love with her and look forward to what more time with her will bring. It is very convenient to think that chickens are unintelligent so we can eat them. It is very easy to think that chicken is a cleaner meat than other animals. But I happen to believe that the DNA of all animal meat is unhealthy to eat, causing western diseases. And I believe that all of us, no matter what we look like, have the same powers of perception, the same ability to be happy or sad, and the same capacity for affection. Seeing our differences is easy, and they are usually so apparent at first glance. But when we look deeper, take the time to really know someone, and open our hearts, the only thing we can possibly find there is love!