The Spiritual Power of Roosters
Hi, my name is Melanie, and I’m an alcoholic. My full time job as an addiction counselor at a world renowned treatment center keeps me on my toes. In my free time I care for my beautiful companion animal family that consists of 11 animals, with my very understanding husband. I have been sober for just over 10 years now. Recovery from alcoholism involves spirituality and believing in something greater than ourselves. Having identified as an atheist most of my life, I assumed there was no place for me in recovery. I was what they call a “dry drunk” for my first 4 years of sobriety. That means I was still irritable, restless and discontent, despite stopping my alcohol use. I was always looking for other things to fill the void that alcohol used to fill for me.
Luckily, I was later told that I could believe in anything I wanted as far as spirituality went.
Ever since my first whale watching trip in 1996, I held a deep spiritual connection with orca whales after two of them surfaced near my kayak and swam under me. Whale watching was not conducive to living in Minnesota. I was lacking a spiritual connection in my landlocked home state. When I was 7 years sober, I became a vegan. It was shortly after my cousin asked me “why do you care about whales so much but eat other animals?” This was eye opening to say the least. Becoming a vegan opened up a spiritual dimension for me I never knew existed.
When I first became vegan I volunteered on a few occasions at Chicken Run Rescue. At that time, they were the only farmed animal rescue in Minnesota. I went into that experience thinking, “bummer I want to see cows and pigs, not just chickens.” Just chickens…!? I instantly fell in love with the chickens, particularly a giant rooster named Butler. As a new vegan, I was still in that mode of speciesism, that certain animals were better than others. That changed very quickly and I knew one day I would also rescue chickens.
The Birth of Rooster Redemption
In winter of 2016 my spirituality was about to blossom even further, when my husband and I lucked out and bought an 1895 farm house with 6 acres, a barn, stable, and chicken coop. In July 2016, our microsanctuary Rooster Redemption was born, when I took in 3 roosters from a school classroom hatching project. Nacho, Cain, and Koda went to the home of a backyard chicken farmer after the school was “done” with them. Once they started crowing, they instantly became unwanted and prohibited in the city they lived in. This is the most common issue for these lovely birds, the “Oops it’s a rooster” since many people have significant difficulty sexing them at young ages prior to crowing.
Our next rescue, Tshua, came to us in December 2016. He was found on the cold streets of St. Paul by our dear friend. She was part of a Facebook group for that neighborhood and she found out he was going to be used in a religious ritual. He is a tiny bantam rooster, estimated to be 2 years old, with a personality the size of this world. To think he was going to be killed is unimaginable. Our next rescue Kipper, was invited into our home in January 2017. He was found near death after escaping a cockfighting operation in Colorado in November, taken in and rehabilitated to health by a veterinarian. Our next 2 rescues also came from school classroom hatching projects, Sir Henry and Sid. Sadly, Sid passed away in February at just 10 months old from a blood clot. We are also guardians for two chihuahuas, two bunnies, and a cat. I have also recently started a Facebook page called “The Chicken Lady” in an attempt to create awareness of how lovely chickens truly are.
I often hear from patients in residential treatment that they fear sobriety will be dull and boring. This is understandable since we, as alcoholics, expected alcohol to entertain us but we found it only destroyed us and everything in our paths. Now that I am 10 years into my recovery and am happier than I can ever imagine, it is rewarding to share with patients my passion for roosters. When I tell them “I had no idea when I quit drinking that I would be in love with rescuing roosters 10 years later,” I love their reactions. One patient in particular giggled and asked “What?? What do you do, find a rooster on the side of the road holding a sign that says “homeless” and take him in?”
Roosters have granted me an understanding of spirituality in ways I never expected. They are the reason I will always have hope for others who are trying to recover from their addiction. My goal with Rooster Redemption and The Chicken Lady is to educate schools about alternatives to classroom hatching projects, smash the stigma put upon roosters, and to provide loving forever homes to our rescues.