Chickens and Ukranian wisdom

Published 10:41am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Philosophical ideas often come from odd sources.

But I try not to be too proud; I’ll accept it from anywhere I can get it. Whether it’s from a chicken or from a wise little Ukrainian.

I was working the other day on a screened-in porch with my friend and fellow worker. I’ll call him Joe Bob (since we’re in the south). He’s a short and stocky, hardworking man with a distinct accent that tells you he ‘ain’t from around here.’ He seems very centered and knows what he believes, and he isn’t afraid to share it with you if given the chance.

We often get into conversations on life, God and family, among other things while we work. I am currently planning a move and needing to find a place to rent in the area.

Upon the topic of moving and living somewhere else he translated an interesting Russian saying to me.

“The best place to live is a place where there is no us.” I know what you’re thinking, step aside Plato – Joe Bob is here!

The American equivalent would be the grass is always greener on the other side. Joe Bob profoundly put it another way.

His broken English translation struck me, knowing that I’ve been guilty of this syndrome in the past. There is always a better looking place to be and it’s usually where I’m not.

My family’s undertaking this year has been buying and raising chickens. We’ve wanted to begin the walk down the road of self-sufficiency. Getting back to our grass roots and providing for ourselves – seems it could be an exhilarating experience. Chickens seem to be a good start in this voyage.

The humorous creatures they are, I have learned from their antics.

Chickens have a bad habit of escaping their fenced enclosure in order to find better and greener pastures. At this time of year – that is not an option. No tint of green foliage for acres, unless of course they go peck at an evergreen – highly unlikely. Yet, they still seem to think it’s a possibility and, on a daily basis, escape their chicken world to give it a go.

Contrary to popular belief, they do indeed fly.

They fly strong and proud for about 4 seconds flat, just enough time to “fly the coop.” Then they are gravity bound once again. I witnessed my rooster spread his wings, lift himself up in the air with a few big flaps, and hoist himself up and over the fence to land right next to me…along with the other chicken I was trying to coral back to the coop.

He had the nerve to do it in front of me as if to say you can only hope to contain me! Landing with a thud next to me, he gives his manly cock-a-doodle-do as if to tell everyone he is rooster – hear him roar.

Funny thing though ‘bout them chickens, they always want back inside the fence! They quickly realize that their shelter, food and water are inside the fence from which they just escaped. The place where there is no “them” seemed like the place to go explore.

This happens on a daily basis – thus the reason they are branded the term “birdbrain.”

Countless times throughout life we tend to get to a spot where we wish we were somewhere else. Whether it’s a job, a house or another state completely.

Having moved nine times in the past 10 years, I know it not to always be true. Contentment is a tough place to settle into, but a wonderful place to stay once you do. Growing our roots down deep and developing where we’re at cultivates the best chance for growth and long lasting stability.

Unless you’re a chicken – they will never be stable. But for people like Joe Bob and me, the place where there is no us is uncharted territory that may not be any greener than here.

Chris Jakubowicz lives in Columbus with his wife and children. His bi-weekly column will focus on how he and his family are trying to get back to their grassroots. Jakubowicz can be reached by e-mail at

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