I bet most people never think of hens this way. Indeed, aren’t we still stuck in the anthropomorphic animal stereotypes dating from medieval bestiaria? In which foxes are astute, doves are noble and hens are… just stupid? Definitely not pretty!
But they are beautiful, if you think about them a little bit more. I used to observe them for hours at my grandmother’s home and I always liked them. But it was this poem by Italian poet Umberto Saba I read years ago that gave me a whole new perspective on hens and made me appreciate their beauty. It’s a love poem for his wife, in which he compares her to a hen: gracious, queenly and proud.
And hens are. The fast changing shape of their bodies as they walk around, the graceful curves of their necks and the deliberate pace of their walk. It’s all meaningful! I know I am anthropomorphing them here, too, but why not do it as a new way to see things?
That’s why I was glad to take the invitation to visit Jacob’s Reward Farm (Parker, TX) to observe hens, along with other animals.
Hens are in a collective relationship, which I think hasn’t been explored much. As hen mistress and Jacob’s Reward owner Cindy Telisak says, they are tribal. Their body language expresses their collective relationship. And every picture of them is worth taking, because, as they move, their body position and “face” expression change constantly and presents the viewer with a different meaningful situation. Each picture is a different tableau, a different play-out of that relationship.
Hope to be back to Jacob’s Reward in the near future… My goal this summer is to learn to understand animals through images better.