Birthday Season

It’s birthday season here in our home – ‘A’ turned 7 a few days ago, my birthday came and went yesterday, and Jeff’s is coming up at the end of the week. Mine passed (thankfully) without much fanfare. It used to be that I loved having a birthday. These days I celebrate my personal growth milestones in other ways, and a birthday doesn’t have as much meaning as it used to. I’m thinking that when I’m older, like great-great-grandma older, the passing of each year will again have meaning. For now the years all run together. I mark time in other ways.

To “festivate” the house this year (yes I know that’s not a real word, but I love it and it’s listed in the Urban Dictionary, right next to “photographize”) I made this birthday banner, inspired by these by Amanda Soule. I love the way the colors come together, and I’ll miss it when I have to take it down until next year. Maybe this pop of color will be replaced by the bright hue of flowers as summer nears?

All 16 chicks spent the afternoon outdoors today. I have never seen such happy chickens! They roamed in a big group, scratching up the ground, digging through weeds, climbing over the woodpile. Every so often one would find something interesting to eat, make an excited noise, and the rest would come running. Often when I would come around they would all come running. Not that I had anything interesting to share with them.

When I watch the chicks run around I can’t imagine keeping them penned up and not let them roam free. I know that free-range chickens are not a possibility for some people, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the big egg and meat producers. The ones who keep the chickens caged in a tiny space for the duration of their existence, then sell the eggs and meat to the supermarkets. Who could watch chickens live like that, knowing that they would be so much happier out on the grass?

Our chickens have a fenced run where they can go when I am not home to watch them. We have hawks, dogs and who knows what other kinds of chicken-eating animals in our village. Many days I find some sort of fur or feathers out on the open, grassy part of the lawn, evidence that some unlucky animal was caught by an owl or a hawk when I wasn’t watching. I can’t let that happen to my chickens. When I am around to watch them, they’ll go free in the yard. Not only will it make them happier, but they’ll lay healthier eggs if they are on pasture. Pastured eggs are all the rage these days, and for good reason: They contain 10% less fat, 34% less cholesterol, 40% more vitamin A, 400% more omega-3 fatty acids and 30% more vitamin E than supermarket eggs, and produce good cholesterol in the body while lowering triglycerides.

And, they are such fun to be around!

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