Unlike most college students, the second thing I do in the morning is go let the chickens out of their coop.
I have a flock of four Silver Laced Wyandotte hens. And I'm not going to lie, they're pretty creepy.
I'm not particularly fond of birds to begin with. They don't have eyebrows and you can't tell what is going on in their tiny nugget of a brain. But my chickens have crossed the threshold of normal avian weirdness into a new realm of making my roommates and I uncomfortable.
Like this, what are they doing? Legitimately alarming behavior...
As soon as I get settled at the dining table with my cup of espresso (or as it's known in my house, liquid sunshine), I look out the sliding glass door and see all four hens peering in the house. I feel their beady eyes on me as they stare into my soul. If I move or acknowledge their presence in any way, they quickly look away.
Upon my further movement toward the door, they disperse nonchalantly. "Who us? We're just chickens." Much like the penguins from Madagascar, as my roommate recently pointed out, they seem to say, "You didn't see anything..."
Not only this, but I realized they our lives together are the definition of parasitism (one species benefits while the other is harmed). In which, I am the host. I pay for their food and they eat it. I give them room to free-range and they tear up the lawn. I clean the coop until it's spotless and they shit all over it again. After about five months of this, it wasn't a particularly amazing partnership from my perspective.
It's amazing how quickly all of this was forgotten when I finally started to see one little benefit to our relationship.
Today, it's close to rounding out the first week of getting delicious fresh eggs from my little creepers. However, being the weirdos they are, the chickens refuse to lay the eggs in the nest boxes, making every day like Easter. It is much more preferable to lay eggs on the coop floor apparently...
Or on top of the nest boxes... I don't even know how...
In any case, our relationship has improved to be considered mutualism. There's a certain degree of satisfaction in knowing exactly where these eggs came from, how the hens were treated and what they were fed. The yolks are the most beautiful yellow-orange, and you simply can't get more delicious eggs from a store. So even though they give me the heebie-jeebies, I think I'll keep them around.
I just make sure to remind them on occasion, as I eat soup made with one of the chickens I butchered last year, that I'm pretty handy with a meat cleaver when it comes down to it.