Today began the fifth and final week of Bob Bailey chicken workshops, and this one promises to be the most challenging. Just when I was beginning to gain some confidence in my abilities and skills we will not be training our own chickens. This week our partners will be training our chickens under our instruction, and vice-versa. This is not only a test of our ability to accurately describe to our partners what we want them to do, observe what they do, and make corrections; it is not only a test of our ability to interpret and follow our partners’ instructions, and make corrections as they ask for them. It is also a test of communication and social skills – and character. It is incredibly more difficult to tell someone else how to train a behavior than it is to just do it oneself! It is also a very challenging responsibility to follow someone else’s instructions. Mistakes are inevitable even when everything is clearly understood, so it requires tolerance and patience on both sides. And then, of course, there is the whole matter of being diplomatic, and setting one’s ego aside.whether one is the instructor or the student.
Who knew training chickens was also a character-building exercise?
Of course, here a lot of other benefits to all this on both sides. For one thing, you have to really understand something to explain it well to someone else, so it points out weaknesses, and forces you to work on them. For another, following someone else’s instructions, and being responsible for training her animals is forcing me to be more aware of weaknesses in my mechanical skills, and to improve them in very specific ways.
And then there is planning, which I struggle with mightily. I have gotten better at writing plans for myself, especially short-term plans covering one training period, or even one day, and I certainly see the benefit of making specific plans, even though they always change in the face of reality. However, it requires a great deal more to write a plan when someone else will be doing the training, even when I will be giving them step-by-step instructions. So, that is what must do now, though I am really exhausted.
I hope by tomorrow to be able to post video of my chickens’ “final performance” from last week’s chaining workshop. Youtube is “processing” the edits right now, and that can take hours, so I’ll just check it in the morning, and hopefully it will be ready. It’s kind of fun to see what we were able to train chickens to do in relatively little time.