Look at that face! Look at those crazy feathers! Whoa, polka dots! The funky ones are the ones we love the most, and isn’t that great?
[Funky Polish chickens. Magda, Eva, and Zsa Zsa. The Gabor sisters were actually Hungarian, but that’s OK.]
It’s not that long ago that the world of chickens was a place of nothing but White Leghorns and industrial production. Getting brown eggs was wacky!! Rhode Island Reds – wow, man, you’re really out there! Thank god for a world of craft beers and Etsy, of farmers’ markets, the Brooklyn-ization of cool, of #vanlife and #tinyhouses, of the Seed Savers Exchange and the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, of caring where things come from and how they used to be done, before we got all efficient and whitewashed.
[Marilyn. She’s a White Leghorn, and that’s OK.]
Today, most of us appreciate diversity, as well we should. And we love a funky chicken. Heritage breeds are all the rage, and “some people” (me) can’t get enough of saving a rare Russian gene pool (Pavlovskayas. Want some.) or collecting many, many (too many?) varieties. Sweet and pretty as my Easter Eggers and Welsummers may be, it’s the Polish and the Sultans folks go gaga over. It’s the oddities who are the stars. When people come over to meet the chickens, they can’t get enough of the Liege, those gorgeous, exotic giants. Want to tuck a 12-pound rooster-dinosaur under your arm? They’re calm and easy-going enough to hold, and it makes for a memorable photo op.
[The Liege are fighting gamebirds with feet nearly the size of a man’s hand. They love to snuggle, and that’s OK.]
To cheer up some work friends after a tough day, I emailed them a photo of my three Swedish Black chicks. They’re black through and through – black feathers, black eyes, black skin, black bones and organs (should you cut them open; please don’t). “Do not google ‘three Swedish Black chicks’ on your work computer,” replied my one colleague, the finance guy, “but they’re awesome.”
[Three Black Swedish chicks. Gender TBD, and that’s OK.]
Our reigning Queen of Funk is Lucrezia Borgia, our white-crested black Polish hen. She’s so gorgeous it’s kind of annoying. She’s that girl who was the cutest little baby, never had an awkward moment in school, and is growing up to be a supermodel. But still, she’s funky. In a world that only wanted more of the same plain vanilla, her standout looks would never have been appreciated.
[Lucrezia Borgia, growing up glamorous.]
Faced with that gorgeousness, that not-like-the-others-ness, we decide (as my Dad’s US Marine Corps buddy used to say): “Do you love it or hate it?” Is someone different a freak to you, and is that good or bad?
The funky little ones don’t even know they’re funky. They just walk around with their extra toes on feathered feet, doing what the others do, only more fabulously.
[The foot of Little Feather. Breed TBD, and that’s OK.]
We, I mean. We’re all freaks, we’re all queer, we’re all ‘other’ to somebody. As luck may have it, some of us may grow all the way up without realizing how funky we are – maybe because we just stayed in a flock with our birds-of-a-feather. Some of us (I’m talking humans now, FYI; chickens are simpler) can’t help but notice it in ourselves, or notice others notice it in us. Then what?
[Every day is Pride day @DyberryCreekFarm]
May we love variety in all things. May we see and celebrate the uniqueness in ourselves and others. May we grow it, emphasize it, take it to its fullness of expression; may we feel the thrill of it, that complete accomplishment of the very specific one we are each here to be; may we marvel at the spectrum of all the other very specific ones. Strangely, that we each have a place on the endless, overlapping continuum of uniqueness is what we most deeply have in common.
[I’m a blonde Polish too. What funky chicken are you?]