I was initially drawn to Mr. Chicken when I noticed that he didn’t hang around or spend time with his kind (other chickens and roosters); instead, Mr. Chicken chose to eat, sleep, and pass his time in the horse stalls, with the horses. This fascinated me, so I began to pay close attention to his whereabouts, ask about his history, and notice his behaviors. I became quite fond of Mr. Chicken.
I learned that Mr. Chicken had come to Dreamtime via an anonymous drop-off to our local Tractor Supply. I learned that all the other babies he had shown up with that day had since expired. This made me start to actualize the resilient nature of Mr. Chicken, and his extraordinary personality. Once, while scrolling through recent photos on my phone, I realized I had more pictures of Mr. Chicken than of all three of my own pets, combined. This made me smile.
Growing up in Texas, I have spent a decent amount of time around ranches and farms. What do we know to be true about the hierarchy of animals around Texas ranches and farms?: that horses are #1. Period. Mr. Chicken somehow recognized that horses have an innate sense of security and power. He gravitated towards that. As a result, unlike his siblings, Mr. Chicken flourished at Dreamtime, and was spared from all the misfortune that life had to offer.
One day, during morning chores, I observed one of the sanctuary’s more dominant and confrontational inhabitants, Jasper the Turkey, challenge Mr. Chicken. I watched as Jasper circled Mr. Chicken, repeatedly, hoping to engage him in a dual. Mr. Chicken paid him no mind and went about what he was doing, pecking at the dirt, looking for treasures. His body language seemed to say, ‘ I have nothing to prove to you, or anyone else for that matter’. Jasper was insistent on the dual, continuing to circle Mr. Chicken, making himself as big and intimidating as he could be. Still, Mr. Chicken could not be bothered. The whole interaction carried-on for about fifteen minutes. In the end, there was nothing Jasper could do to successfully provoke Mr. Chicken. Mr. Chicken’s focus and confidence could not be broken. I was inspired by how Mr. Chicken handled himself. We should all be more like Mr. Chicken, I thought.
Mr. Chicken embodies some of the most respectable and admirable qualities a being can. He is a peaceful warrior. The best kind. He teaches us that true confidence comes from within; it is unwavering. There is no circumstance or advisory that can ever take that away from Mr. Chicken or from each of us. We have total control. May we all accept this valuable lesson from Mr. Chicken and honor him for it.
-Deborah Schagen, Volunteer