I recently learned that there is a woman in my home state of Maine who earns a quarter of a million dollars a year blogging about chickens.
[Go ahead. Read that again. I had to see it a couple of times myself before it sank in.]
Her name is Lisa Steele, and she runs “the largest natural chicken keeping resource on the internet.” I’ve been smiling about this for days, because I just think it’s so incredible. I mean, $250,000 a year to blog about chickens! Who ever said American wasn’t great???
(And no, that’s not a political comment, but rather an expression of awe and wonder that we live in a place where such WEIRD things can happen. I think that’s cool.)
Discoveries like this pull me into exploration mode, and soon I was immersed in the online world of farming & homesteading. This was a bit of a shock. Apparently, chickens are a thing. There are even jokes about how baby chicks are the gateway drug that quickly leads to piglets and milk cows! I kept blinking at my laptop, trying to imagine.
(By way of reference, I just threw away our latest failed attempt to grow chives. Who can’t grow a CHIVE?) The idea that people go out into the lonely countryside – on purpose – to spend their days raising creatures they eventually have to kill? I can’t even fathom. But I am intrigued!
Here’s what I noticed: the sites are pretty. They depict the slow-paced, bucolic rural life one might dream of on a morning commute on a Red Line train that’s stuck, mid-tunnel, deep in the bowels of Cambridge. Because when you’re packed in tight with that much sweaty, stressed humanity, and there’s that smell that tells you at least one rat has been fried on the third rail, a life of farm, flowers & feathers seems like the perfect antidote to all that is wrong with your world.
Lisa’s site even has a picture showing that her bird enclosure has a SWING (scroll down about halfway). Do chickens swing??? (I guess I mean that in all sorts of ways…it just raises so many questions!) So yes, there was a brief moment where I wondered what it would be like to have swinging birds in my own backyard???
Awful. That’s what it would be.
We have HAWKS in our neighborhood, along with at least two outdoor cats who make the local bunnies scream with terror late at night. The circle of life is not always bucolic or serene. It’s not even consistently better than life on the Red Line. I’m sure there are moments of peace, joy & miracles, of course. And for anyone who loves chickens the way Lisa seems to, that’s living the dream. I think that’s what makes her site so great – it seems real, even when she’s doing a product placement for giant bags of bird feed. But this life we live is complicated, no matter where you live it. So the secret is to figure out what battles YOU’RE equipped to fight (and win) and find your place in the world, rather than envying and trying to copy someone else’s…particularly if your only window into that world is through your computer screen.
(Lisa mentions in that chicken swing post her sadness over losing a favorite duck. I for one am glad she didn’t post pictures of what that particular loss entailed.)
So, no chickens for me.
Why am I writing all this instead of answering your questions about adoption?
Because I’m wrestling with this dilemma:
I know that if I tell you about the incredible moments we have as a new family – like the snowball fight we had in the backyard one night last week after we shoveled out the driveway – you are likely to wonder, at least for a nanosecond, if adopting a child from foster care might be right for you. Maybe there’s something you’re missing out on that you can’t get any other way?
You should, and you are, and I hope you will.
But if I just give you the sweet parts, you’ll get hammered when a hawk swoops down and eats your chickens, so to speak. Adoption (along with parenthood and, well…life) isn’t all bucolic and serene.
I want to be honest here on the blog, and give you the whole picture. That way, when YOU adopt awesome kids from foster care, you’ll know that hawks happen…but they don’t define the endeavor, and there are ways to keep them away.
I’ll be back with an actual answer to one of your questions soon. Until then…check out all the CHICKENS!