I would imagine that most chicken keepers have some kind of ‘happy hour’ with their birds, be it with a coffee or a beer, but we’ve never thought of that time spent as ‘drinking with chickens’. There actually is a blog (and book) named exactly that: a clever blend of cocktail mixology with the owner’s chickens peppered throughout the glossy photo shoots. I took a look at the author’s home – a beautifully renovated place in Los Angeles that looks like housecleaners and stagers are on standby to remove dust motes, the odd feather, or heaven forbid a misplaced chicken poop. With all her time spent whipping up fancy cocktails I can’t imagine also having time to shovel shit, deal with injuries, illness, broody hens, predators, inclement weather or all the fun stuff that comes with keeping birds. That type of sharing umbrella-topped bevvies seems more fitting for the urban millennials who fancy the idea of feathered pets than actually having them.
I guarantee that my place – an old 1940’s homestead on 4½ acres – wouldn’t pass muster by those standards, nor would I want it to. My house clearly says that a dog, cat and chicken farmers and gardeners live here. If I spent all my days dusting and polishing when would I have time for my flock? I squint so not to see the dust bunnies under the couch despite my frequent forays with the broom and instead choose to spend time with my girls. Some days their coop looks better than my livingroom. And at the end of a hard day at work or as a pick-me-up before the next task on the list I take a coffee out to sit with my girls. Some of you might prefer harder libations and that’s okay too.
When I was a kid I watched reruns of Leave It To Beaver (I was too young to see it when it first aired in 1957-1963), an American television show featuring the perfect nuclear family, the Cleavers and their two sons. Every day, while Ward was at work June tidied the house and apparently fulfilled herself by catering to the needs of others. When Ward arrived home she had his newspaper and a coffee ready so he could decompress from his day at the office. I don’t remember ‘cocktail hour’, but alcohol certainly featured in later TV shows.
Coming home and slipping off your shoes, having a shower, grabbing a beverage, a paper or the television remote are all ways of shedding your experiences at work or out in the world. Most of us don’t have a June Cleaver to greet us, all attention focused on how we’ve managed to fill our hours since leaving home that morning. No, if we have a partner they are probably engaged in the same busy lives as we are: commuting, juggling kids’ schedules, shopping, cooking, cleaning, dealing with family or the people at work. In short, someone isn’t always fluffing us up making us feel like the centre of their universe; on the contrary, they may be looking for us to do that for them.
For those of us with birds our chickens have replaced June Cleaver in some ways. They are there to let us vent about our day without interruption or the expectation we give them equal airtime. They come running with an unconscious abandon that we interpret as an expression of love, but probably translates as ‘thanks for the treats’. Those feathered muppets entertain us with their pecking, scratching and clucking so the time spent with them is like stepping into another world. We can sit quietly and become aware of wild bird calls, the breeze through the trees, the warmth from the sun and time slows down.
Time spent with chickens gives us an excuse to gain some insight into the workings of their worlds while putting ours on hold. Sitting with them, a beverage in hand, is a ritual that reinforces the relationship between us and provides a much-needed break from the stresses of our daily lives.
I have spent many hours sitting with my flock and have a few thousand photos to show for it. Since I’m the photographer there are very few images with me in them and since I’m a bit OCD about clutter in photos I usually crop out superfluous items like coffee cups. So here I am wishing I’d been a little less fussy about removing those beverages since they would have been appropriate for this post. Never fear, whenever I need help I put a call out to folks on my Facebook page asking for assistance.
And thanks to them, their contributions have helped created a more well rounded representation of what it really means to be ‘drinking with chickens’.
Good Habits Start Early
A friend made this for me years ago after a cocktail I invented one late night that I named ‘The Bitchin’ Kitchen’ and served with late night eggs. – Sharlene Hinz
Appropriate Beverage Holders
Chickens Will Not Be Mistaken For Aloof Cats
Drinks Are For You, Not Them
I was drinking a beer with my Japanese Game roo last night and he kept drinking what was left in the rim and got annoyed when I moved it away from him so he knocked it over and started drinking the bit that spilled while I reached for a towel. – Jessi Jay
Beware, Chickens Can Be Sly
Helen loved a sugar-free/preservative-free soda that I drank. I learned to never leave an open one within her reach. – Cheri Lyon
Nope, There Will Be No Endorsement For Smoking With Chickens
Chickens Are Good Listeners
These are my two new girls ‘Thing One’ and ‘Thing Two’ and my mug of wine. I de-stress after a crappy day by hanging with them. – Dana Wilson
Chickens & Glassware Don’t Mix
I don’t drink very often with the chickens because they knock glasses over, but we do love to sit together and eat grapes. That’s our special daily time together. – Sandy McMillan
Who’s The Queen Tonight?
When all your girlfriends have lives/Covid/kids and you haven’t been able to “wine and b*tch” but then realize you have a house full of ladies that would love to have some wine and pitch loud noises playing “Who’s the queen tonight?” – Dani Colman
Roosters Are Really Just Lap Chickens
Be Inclusive, Happy Hour Is For Everyone
My turkey, Vegas loves a good belly scratch with me and my wine. Need to open a beer? No problem, just call Joe.
Don’t Forget Weed
I don’t drink much but I do toke with my birds. Watching and being around my flock – 11 chickens, 2 turkeys and 4 bunnies – is my Zen. They bring me so much peace, comfort, happiness and laughter. Their ridiculous antics always crack me right up and it’s impossible to be in a bad mood around them. Watching their personalities blossom as they grow older is such a joy. They give me motivation and inspiration to not only continue to better their living conditions, but to better my own living conditions as well. – Tiffany Sunshine
You Go, Girl
Nothing Says You’re Special Like An Outing To The Local Brewery
What Happens In The Coop Stays In The Coop
Remember Beverages & Snacks For The Flock
Coffee Time With Bitchin’ Chickens
And The Grand Prize Goes To …
A woman who enjoys her libations as much as her flock. And what’s better than building your own indoor-outdoor bar, complete with a chick brooder for entertainment?! Let’s give some serious props to Heide Royer (also known as Bitchin’ Chickens guest contributor The Poultry Princess) and her Chick Bar-N “Now my friends can come over, have a drink and listen to some music all while watching baby chickens and having free ranging birds visit and try to steal snacks.”
Keeping chickens is not always how we imagined it to be: fluffy butts scratching and free-ranging through fields with never an issue. As it turns out, it can be hot, sweaty and buggy work, or stressful when dealing with predators, injuries, illness and loss.
I thought we were all due for some levity to punctuate the low points of having birds. Of course, the rewards are worth it, especially the times when you can just hang out with your flock and enjoy them chickening with a beverage in hand.
Thanks to all those who rose to my challenge and submitted photos and stories. Featured photo credit: Adobe Stock.
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