A rooster was dumped on my property last September and I fell in love with him.
Everyone else seemed to like him too, even though he crows a lot.
So I bought him six hens last fall, and built a coop and a chicken run off the side of my barn.
Then just about a week ago I bought seven more 6-week-old pullets.
The pullets live in tent brooders in my family room; three in one brooder and four in another. When it is warmer and they are ready, I will introduce them to the flock in the coop and run outside, and integrate everyone.
Meanwhile, this time with the baby chickens in my house with me is wonderful. We are gently bonding and all getting used to each other. I love to play classical music for them when I am working in the kitchen. They are so cute — they get very still, and quietly chirp along.
And every morning I spend a few minutes talking to them, letting them get used to my presence and my voice. They responded to this right away, looking up at me while I talk, with little curious eyes.
On the second day, one chicken, I named her Charlotte, even jumped out of the brooder and came up to sit on my lap. It was her idea! It was so precious. The next day, her friend Phoebe did the same.
But the other day, I came out and noticed something unusual. All the girls in the brooder with Charlotte seemed very skittish, terrified of me and any movements I made. The girls in the other brooder were fine, no different.
So I just sat with them, waiting for the nervous group of chickens to calm down a bit. But they never did.
I decided to communicate with them, in the hopes of discerning why their behavior had changed I peripherally connected with the young hens empathically to feel what was happening.
Right away I started receiving flashes of industrial chicken operations, and even a slaughterhouse, and the workers there in the background. I could tell that one chicken, Juliette, (the pretty black and white chicken in the images below) was experiencing some kind of memory imprints, either from her own life before in another chicken body, or from some collective chicken consciousness memory, or both.
And it was clear that the other chickens were now getting caught up in Juliette’s nightmare. They were all confused, and terrified of me, the human being.
So I just sat with them and talked to them, with a softness on my voice stream. I reassured them they are all safe now. It seemed to calm them for a few minutes.
But the next day, the same thing. Terrified of me again.
So I decided to work with Juliette directly.
I am thinking this will be my journey with Juliette for the coming days and weeks, and hopefully the imprints from her trauma will begin to fade. One way or another, she will be safe and loved in her life with me and with my flock.
The whole experience of helping little Juliette made me reflect on how experiencing traumas and then healing from them is so central to life on this earth.
It is sad but it is the way it is.
But when our loved ones have some sense of what happened to us, they share in our burden, and it can change things.
My grandmother had a saying, “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
Empathy is a healing force, and happens naturally when we listen deeply to the experience of those we love. This is especially true with our animal friends.