“The intelligence of the mind can’t think of any reason to live, but it goes on anyway because the intelligence of the cells can’t think of any reason to die.”
Robert Pirsig

Lila

Woosh Woosh

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When, 6 months ago, we moved out to the village we were gifted with 10 chicks, a mother duck and six ducklings. The chicks have gr   own into cocks and chickens. For a week now the cocks have even began to call out with an off-pitch and somewhat broken cuckadoodledoo of which we are very proud.

However the flock has an odd behavior – they are infatuated with styrofoam – they don’t just play with it they eat it! We’ve kept the styrofoam from boxes of products we have received because (a) it is non-degradable and (b) may yet have its uses. Most of it stored in the part of the barn that has become the workshop and some was left outside in a few large boxes that we left lying around. The flock got into the boxes and went at the styrofoam inside and so I took it away. Now their only source of this junk-food is in the workshop. When we are not there working its closed, when we are there the cocks and chickens are constantly trying to get inside. I don’t want them to.

I don’t want them to eat the styrofoam – it doesn’t make sense to me that they even want to, but I can’t change that. I can keep them from eating it … or at least I can try to. Let me draw you a picture. I am standing in the middle of the workshop holding a running power tool (planer, sander, circular saw … you choose). From the corner of my eye I see a cock or chicken approach the entrance and I call out to it “woosh woosh” … which in Romanian Chickenish means “go  away”. The chicken doesn’t seem to get it and keeps coming. So I call it out to it again … well … this time it’s less of a call … more of an assertive demand. The chicken pauses, but still doesn’t get it and keeps coming. So, if possible I wave it my running power machine (not recommended with a circular saw, can work with a drill which kind of looks like a gun I suppose) and that may or may not work. More likely I have to power down the machine, put it down and go to the chickens adding a waving of my hands together with the “woosh woosh”. That works.

But chickens are  kind of like sales people, they are relentless when they want something and they never take rejection personally. So it isn’t long before round two begins. It will look and sound the same only this time I will be more frustrated and therefor more aggressive and violent towards the chickens. I get the same result but with an added chastise from Andreea reminding me that we want to raise “stress free” chickens. And what about me …do we want to raise a stress-full me?

But here’s the funny thing. Chickens are dumb animals … their eyes remind of fish … I have come to think of them as  walking fish that lay eggs. They have very small heads and simply not much room for brain-matter. They are instinctual biological creatures. They are not like, for example, our dogs who can learn and unlearn a wider ranger of behaviors. They don’t learn, they forage for food, and in our case, for styrofoam. They go away when I “woosh” them away but they inevitably come back … foraging for styrofoam. I know all this and yet every time I “woosh” them away I would get angry at them for not “getting me” … I want them to go away and never come back … ever. It was pretty humiliating to realize that it wasn’t them who were not getting it, it was me. This is what chickens are, this is what they do and it isn’t going to change. It is I that am gifted with brain matter and the ability to observe, analyze, understand and change. It was I who failed to do so. I can tell you this, It’s not easy accepting a spiritual teaching from a walking fish.

With that humbling lesson in mind I moved on (up a class?) in my chicken education. I have observed that the cocks (male chickens) behave different then the chickens (females). The females are easier to “woosh” – the cocks are more stubborn. They are, well, more cocky! They will stop (where the females will have already turned and walked away) and look at me with an “are you talking to me tough guy?”. They will stick around for a few seconds with a “no problem, we’ll come back another time when you’re not looking” look and then slowly and proudly walk away.

That’s when I got it … that’s why they are called cocks … they really are cocky. Then I really got it. I was looking back at them thinking “get the fuck out of here and let me work or I’ll come and wring your neck” look … I was being cocky too. Now I know why a penis is also called a cock … I guess that cockiness, like penises is a male thing.

Who would’ve though … chickens!

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