When keeping hens I learned very early on that you did not put the food for the day in a trough or container. The hens then just had to go and eat it and were quickly finished and then just lay about.
So the food was spread around the hen run. I also spread straw so that the hens had to scratch about in the straw to find the crushed oats and corn that I had scattered. Busy hens were contended hens.
There is a lovely chines tale about just this.
A rooster was strutting around the yard, busily looking for good things to eat. Peck, peck scratch, scratch it went. He gobbled down a piece of barley-corn with greedy satisfaction.
Every time it found some food it gobbled it down then stretched his neck up high, and flapped his wings in delight. Then he shook out all his feathers and strutted to the far side of the yard, eyes alert for more good food.
Other hens were scratching industriously around the fence post, but he ignored them. He was searching for any spare barley corn that might have been overlooked by the other chickens at feeding time.
Then he saw something glimmering underneath the dusty straw beside the barn. Oh-ho! What was that? Scratch, scratch, scratch!
He worked industriously, trying to root out the object, which glowed in the morning sun. A moment later, he dug out a very large pink pearl.
He stared at the pearl, looking at it first through his right eye, and then through his left.
What sort of strange seed was this? He pecked it a couple of times. It rolled back and forth under the force of his strong beak, but it didn’t break open like a seed would after such a blow.
He scratched at it with his claws. Still nothing.
The pearl rolled a few inches away from Rooster’s foot, and landed next to a spare barley corn that the hens had missed. With a delighted cluck, Rooster pounced on the barley corn and gobbled it up.
He then took a step back and his foot slipped when it landed on the pearl. Reminded once again of the strange pink seed, he turned around to look at it.
He eyed the pearl suspiciously, and pecked it again.
It didn’t break open, so he gave a cluck of disgust. No prize there. Who could possible want a seed so hard you couldn’t eat it? Not him. He preferred barley corn.
He strutted away, his keen eyes on the lookout for more barley corn. Behind him, the lost pearl – a 200 carat natural salt-water pearl valued at over £1000.
It glinted unheeded in the morning sun.
It was of no interest to him.
The value of everything lies in the eye of the beholder.
Not each of us lies a message. What we find valuable may be of no blouse to others. For the artist it is wise to know that not everybody will appreciate the work you produce.
We can all but give of our best.
Have a wonderful day.