My egg economy fell out on Monday. All of my quail and all but one of my chickens were killed by a predator with dexterous digits—one that can turn a latch and pry chicken wire away from an armature. Prolly, aka PNP, aka Probably Not Peaches, my one remaining hen, is in a liminal state of health. She is hovering. I am sitting in my bathroom with her. She is breathing deeply, sitting on a bed of straw in a small cage with a dish of her favorite foods nearby: scrambled eggs with crushed egg shell, raisins and chickweed. This food has remained untouched.
I live with animals and plants. It is my practice and lifestyle to make medicine, build soil, and grow, forage for, and preserve food. This practice of mine is an economy in and of itself. It sustains me and I am also able to use it to create other economies that create other relationships with people and that pays the bills. The art world casts lines to my practice and I use aesthetic strategies to illuminate and frame this lifestyle. A few of my on-going and one-off projects include: inviting Chicagoans to shit in a bucket and collecting and composting the resulting 1,500 gallons of human waste into fertile soil, serving homemade tacos made from foraged and dumpstered produce cooked in a solar oven-rocket stove pulled by a bicycle on the streets of Copenhagen, and designing/managing a large scale vermicomposting system of plus or minus a million worms at a large homeless shelter to consume their cafeteria waste.
I am surprised she is alive and holding onto this compromised state of being, but animals are like that. They continue to persist even when they’ve been knocked down a notch or four.
From the back of her comb to her shoulder blades, Prolly has been scalped. I rub honey with finely chopped yarrow into her rawness. I hold her in my lap and loop energy through my heart, into my left arm, through her, into my other arm and then into my heart again. And I keep looping this circuit. It occurs to me that I am allowing myself to be increasingly late to my own art opening.
I am surprised she is alive and holding onto this compromised state of being, but animals are like that. They continue to persist even when they’ve been knocked down a notch or four. If my chicken could think abstractly, what would Prolly say about “economy”? About “art”?
The word “economic” directly follows “ecology” in many dictionaries. In mine, the Oxford Pocket American Dictionary of Current English reads:
Ecology / economic / economical / economics / economist / economize, economy / ecosphere / ecosystem
All these “eco-” words framed between the bacteria “e.coli” and the color “ecru” come from the greek OIKOS meaning “home”.
Ecology is about the quality of relationship of a community of organisms and economy is about the wealth and management of resources of a community. Ecology is a self-perpetuating economy. There is a cyclical give and take and give once again. I am a homesteader. I follow these cycles.
Prolly breathes long and heavy. I take advantage of this and drip watery eye droppers full of blended chicken soup, molasses and bee pollen. She drinks each dose and then suddenly flails herself from my lap.
I go to the art opening. I drink wine and snooze. I am taken to a delicious dinner with boring company. I get home at midnight and sit in the straw and drip feed my chicken until we both nod off.
It’s been five days and Prolly lets go. When I returned home, I paused at the door and asked her if she was there and she said, “No”. And she wasn’t. That night I planted her to feed the witch hazel.