I’m listening to a book titled “Man Made,” by Joel Stien (available on Amazon. get it by clicking through the link on the top of the page). In it, the author, who was raised upper middle class in New Jersey and hadn’t spent much time out of the NY/NJ area, had a son. Leading up to and shortly after his birth, Stein decided / realized he was not “manly” enough to raise a son. In an attempt to improve his manliness level, he puts himself in all sorts of different scenarios with outcomes ranging from zany to uncomfortable to heartfelt. While caring for a dog for two weeks (something he’s never done before), he describes a feeling many people have had when living in a full and warm household.
“Everything feels slow, which I hate, only right now I don’t. I thought having a dog and a kid would be slobber and barking and running back and forth, but it’s calming. I feel something that’s not the absence of loneliness but something more tangible. Like anti-loneliness, like Sean Greene* and Matt Nadal* the day trader had, and I’m finally getting some of it too.”
*both appeared in earlier chapters
I have had moments like this, and our lives have certainly been made even fuller with the addition of backyard chickens to our household. Seeing these ladies grow, introducing them to the delicacy of mealworms, and finding their first eggs have been such marvelous experiences. I could not have imaged life without them… until today. While playing in the yard this evening, in our “slow” moving merriment, my wife and I, our two wonderful daughters, our wonderful dog, and the four chickens were all going about our business, enjoying our time together, when one of those little fuckers pecked my baby girl! Right then and there, I lost all love for that stupid bird (If it even is a bird! I feel like a “bird” should be able to fly more than like 5 feet at a time, so I pause to even call it that). While I’ve cooled off a little because my baby was ok, at that exact second I heard her cry, I wanted to run up and just give the thing a good ol’ “Adam Venitari in the snow” special, if it only wasn’t mildly fleet of foot. Things moved from “lovingly slow” to “oh shit screaming kid” fast very quickly, and it was an important reminder. Some things in life you just can’t control. That chicken was acting on instinct; she saw another creature about her size and felt the urge to place it in the pecking order. She is lucky she wasn’t then placed in an order… of Buffalo wings (thank you, thank you, I’m here all week). I guess the key is to find creatures that can exist naturally with you. When co-existing with someone or thing forces one party to greatly alter the behavior of the other, is it really worth it? These next 24 hours will be an important test for my love of the chickens.