I’ve been thinking a lot about false dichotomies lately.
They seem to be all the rage these days.
A false dichotomy is when a choice or belief is incorrectly presented as EITHER/OR.
It presumes there are only two options.
“In philosophy, “you’re either with us or against us” is considered a false dichotomy or a false dilemma,” writes Brene Brown in Braving the Wilderness. “It’s a move to force people to take sides. If other alternatives exist (and they almost always do), then that statement is factually wrong. It’s turning an emotion-driven approach into weaponized belonging.”
We gravitate towards these binaries because black and white is easier than grey.
Grey requires feel. It demands nuance. It’s messy and uncertain.
Yet the truth is often found there.
I’ve been a part of “weaponized belonging” in the past. Trust me— it’s not great…
As a result, I’m always seeking my way OUT of clubs and cliques and tribes that cultivate followers instead of thinkers.
Last week, I accidentally got myself kicked out of another tribe of sorts. But I think it’s a good thing.
I won’t rehash the whole deal here, (because frankly, I’m kinda tired of it…), but I deeply disappointed some folks in the homestead community when I posted about the seasonal nature of eggs over on Instagram.
Technically, the problem wasn’t the egg part per say, but more that I pointed to reasons for backyard chickens laying fewer eggs in the wintertime that didn’t involve with foul play by the government.
“Who paid you to write this?”
“How dare you say this isn’t government related!”
“I thought you were different than this!”
In essence the message was: You don’t believe exactly like me, therefore you are against me.
And there it was— another false dichotomy…. in something as simple as backyard chickens.
And so, as I do… I’ve been thinking on this. And not just in the realm of eggs, but on a broader scope, too.
And I’ve been reminded that it doesn’t always have to be either/or. In fact, it’s often “both/and”
I can disagree with Big Government’s overreach and regulation in many areas AND I can also believe there are less nefarious, more logical reasons that backyard chicken flocks are laying fewer eggs this winter.
Both things can be true at once.
Because, contrary to popular belief, there are almost always more than TWO sides. You don’t have to fall into one of the approved camps.
You can pitch your tent anywhere you want.
I recognize that’s harder, though. It’s scary. It’s vulnerable. It goes against our subconscious desire to fit in with the herd and feel safe (And yes, even independent homestead folks form herds…)
But if we seek to think and not just follow, we must.
For me, this looks like constantly questioning the mainstream narrative but ALSO questioning information that comes from within the homesteading world. Because quite frankly? There’s a lot of bad/sensational information floating around at the moment.
I don’t want to trade blindly following one narrative for blindly following another.
Our food supply might be shaky and there very likely are people in power who don’t want us to be self-sufficient, but our backyard chickens might also just be decreasing production because it’s wintertime.
Two things can be true at once.
So here’s what I’m asking myself this week— maybe you’ll feel inspired to do the same:
- Where in my life am I blindly jumping on bandwagons?
- How might I be unfairly pigeonholing others with a “if you’re not for me, you’re against me!” mindset?
- On the topics I hold dear, what sort of information would I need to be given to change my mind? If the answer is “NOTHING!” I may be operating out of dogma, rather than reasoning.
I’m not perfect at this. I have to check myself on a regular basis. But I can attest that the world opens up when we stop reacting and start asking better questions.
Here’s to the middle,
P.S. A lot of people messaged me about the theory of chicken feed formulations changing. I think it’s a possibility. Right now commodity prices are skyrocketing and there are supply chain shortages everywhere. It makes sense that a company might skimp on protein or swap in inferior ingredients. However, I think it’s far more likely this is happening so these companies can maintain their margins– not because there’s a secret universal plot sabotage all backyard chickens. If suspect you’re dealign with this, try switching feeds, making your own feeds, or providing additional protein.
Thank you for bringing this all to light and putting it all into words. I completely agree that we need to dig into the grey area and it’s not so much a yes or no type world.
I often feel the pull to one side because I have similarities to either the beliefs or interests of certain parties, but it’s important to stop and really think before just believing what someone says because they are someone you look up to, or a big group of powerful people, it goes both ways.
You are inspiring me to become a critical thinker and not just look for the answers I’m hoping for. Sometimes the answers we need aren’t exactly what we are hoping to hear, but they are what will ultimately help us grow and become better in whatever direction we are heading.
Thank you Jill!
I have been a “both/and” advocate for a few decades, and the older I get, the more grays I perceive…and even that raises some hackles ?
Lorie Flanders says
Thank you for being a voice of reason in the dark sea of fear and uncertainty we find ourselves in. I think most folks are just genuinely afraid right now. Of lots of things. Hyper alert to any danger or threat. We all just need to take a collective deep breath and trust God/ The Universe to carry us through to the other side. We are all going to be ok as long as we don’t turn on each other and destroy ourselves!
I agree. My chickens who didn’t lay eggs in February in 1995 didn’t know about the conspiracy theory. They just started laying when I make sure they had 16 hours of light a day…. Not that I am naive and don’t understand there is evil intent in this world…but sometimes instead of reading about conspiracy theories, a few books about raising healthy chickens would be helpful.
Katie Murray says
Your last line is a nugget of gold.
Cheers to being in the middle and being a critical thinker!
True! We had chickens back in the 90’s & they always slowed/stopped laying in winter!
T Gates says
This makes the most sense out of anything I’ve read in awhile.
You have hit the nail squarely on the head. “the world opens up when we stop reacting and start asking better questions.” says it all. I don’t believe 100% in any group but bits and pieces from many groups here and there. I try to listen to all sides and, as you say, ask better questions. It is amazing what you can learn. Thanks, Jill
KIM Ashcraft says
I appreciate this post and even the original post or podcast you made about chickens and why they might be laying less. Its so crazy to me this whole ordeal because chickens have always decreased egg production and even stopped laying in the winter….but this year people online are acting like theyve never seen this happen before! We had chickens when I was a child…and do you know what we fed them? Cracked corn…….everyday. They didnt even have “layer pellets” back then! And our chickens laid eggs!! And while I also can see where comoanies have had to adjust some recipes to stay in business, I just cant wrap my head around the fact that this is a government conspiracy. I just cant! Have we really becime this world of paranoia? I shared your podcast to my poultry page….Nobody commented on it and I was glad! Because I definitely didnt want a big dilemma started…i just wanted to ease peoples minds a bit. Times are hard, yes….but we have enough to worry about without adding “the big government chicken plot” to the mix! I appreciate that youre a real person Jill! Keep being you!
Geoff Thomas says
“The Big Government Chicken Plot”… Coming soon to DVD, BluRay, and your favorite streaming services.
At the start of the pandemic, we started a study of past pandemics going back to the Middle Ages. The methods for the dissemination of (mis)iinformation have changed, but conspiracy theories and the breaking off into camps/tribes have been around for a long time.
Exactly… people who have had chickens for years realize the truth in this. I also am not saying that feed formulations haven’t changed but… actually this is very true in all aspects of our lives and our world….if you are not “with me” you are “against me “ mentality
Bonnie McColpin says
Such a great post! Thoughtful, introspective, challenging. It’s obvious you’ve put time and experience into this and I appreciate the level headedness you’ve laid out. Keep up the good work, I appreciate you.
Sherylyn Asch says
Confirmation bias is real! I’m here trying to live in the rational between with you, girl. It can fell like a lonely place. It requires critical thinking skills and I’m afraid we left those behind years ago.
Rebecca Doty says
Agreed! I don’t believe it is a conspiracy to keep chickens from producing. However, I have noticed being in southern Illinois my chickens are almost always back to laying this time of year and they are not. I believe you are correct in saying the cost to make the feed and companies trying to maintain is a more likely scenario. We feed them different food during the winter and have just switched back to the better production time feed. I think we will notice a difference within the next week or so.
I really liked your statement that the truth is often found in the grey. I believe this is pretty accurate!
Smith Cindy says
Thank you.. when people kept tagging me and telling me this I was not quick to jump on the conspiracy. I kept saying chicken change. Weather, sun, grass and even if I have a piece of metal banging in the wind happens to stress them out. But one thing I can say is people who are relatively new to chicken for in about 2-3 years ago and their flock is older which means your yearlings that lay in the winter and fall may not lay as much the next year. Changing up or really adding some more nutrients or changing up can trigger more laying so they think it’s the original feed. But chickens can be fickle.
Christine Slatter says
Absolutely the best thing to read this pre dawn am. It’s the time I love to read and ponder. Having raised chickens for 50 years the comparison to a better perspective of thought was intriguing,???Thought provoking and a great beginning to my day. Thank you!
You’re right. You tell it like it is and that’s one of the reasons I am a big fan of yours. You stand for something instead of falling for anything. I’m proud of you for encouraging others to do their research. You’re a role model in the homestead community and I, for one, am very grateful for you. I could go on and on about all the amazing things you do – the recipes you share, all your holiday gift ideas, the videos you make, your input on things, the joy you bring to so many lives – it would take forever because you truly are a wonderful person. Your grace and vulnerability is what I love and expect the most from you. I wouldn’t respect or adore you this much if you were one to follow the masses. So please don’t ever change. I really feel like you’re not a sell out… I thank you and love you for all that you are.
I just love you Jill. You are the no nonsense, middle of the road, cut and dry kinda person I wish there were more of. Thank you for posting this. Much support and appreciation from Idaho??
Katie Murray says
I wondered how much backlash came at you after your statements that day (as I shook my fist at my chickens who stopped laying altogether for two days because of the cold snap). As others have said, thank you for standing up calmly for common sense and reason. You have a great platform and experience base with which to reach and hopefully slowly guide many people.
Lesa Ellis says
Good Topic! People always want to blame something or someone when most of the time the problem isn’t a problem. It’s just nature. Maybe the feed company is putting the same amount of corn in the chicken feed, but because of nature that corn might not have been as high in protein. (Drought, cold, hail, early or late frost). Another thing is we have a lot of (new) animal steward’s that are not as informed or experienced as maybe they should be. For no example breeds of chickens lay different amounts of eggs per year. Was the research done before buying the breed? (Nature of the breed). Did we get an exceptionally cold snowy winter? (Nature). I have cut down to 12 chickens I’ve noticed on nice days I might get 8 eggs now on cold days I might get 2. And the molt is over. (Nature).
Thank you for this. I don’t have chickens now, but I grew up cleaning the henhouse, gathering eggs, generally tending to our flock and we just knew that the winter months meant lower production. It was simply a natural part of raising chickens and knowing their cycles.
We seem to have become a nation of either/or unfortunately and not just about egg shortages. Reality usually lives somewhere in the “both/and”. Critical thinking actually takes time and effort. Bandwagons are almost always easy to jump on and ride.
Again, thanks for the thoughtful post.
Thank you, Jill for articulating this so well. Happy to be in the middle grey areas, hope others will join us and respect our differences. It used be, to a great extent, that our differences made us stronger. Sadly it now is, as you say, weaponized and has come to represent our “weakest link”. I guess I’ll just continue to stand where my beliefs are with my ears and my mind open and listening and hope others will do the same for me.
I always enjoy reading your posts. I look forward to it. I’m learning & finding so much joy in homesteading. Only wish I would have found “pioneers” like you & the other greats sooner! I love your honesty & how you seek out & find what’s best for you & your family. You’ve helped tremendously (and continue to) to provide so many resources for my family. I’m thankful for all of the Lord’s blessings & his creation & thankful you help give me the courage & knowledge to experience it more fully than ever before. Please don’t stop posting/writing/sharing. Praying for you & your family. I know you’re strong enough & confident enough to handle the negativity, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cast a bit of a dark cloud in the process. Thank you!
THANK YOU for being a voice of reason. While yes, there is evil and greed all around us, do we immediately have to jump to the conclusion that EVERYTHING around us is apart of that?! And EVERYTHING must be politicized and EVERYONE is totally polarized with no thought to stop and ask the questions for themselves? Goodness, this was such a welcome reprieve and relief to read. Thank you for being a critical thinker and encouraging others in this (and all) communities to think and research for themselves, and be willing to accept that “their group”, “THAT group”, “THEY”, THOSE people”, etc., might have some valid points, regardless of whether you agree with them on all other things. Things are never black and white if we are only open to seeing the gray for what it is.
Merissa @Little House Living says
I posted something very similar on our Facebook page last week and had similar feedback. I’ve been telling friends for many weeks now that I do think “inferior or filler” products could have been added but I’ve not seen proof of this yet other than the rumor mill. In fact, we currently use feed from a chain feed store and have had no issues other than the typical wintertime slowdown.
Until I’ve seen tested proof, I don’t think defaming a company or business is fair. I also think the sensational news has gotten to be a little much lately, and I agree that it’s caused many people to jump on the “for us or against us” bandwagon. I am not typically a blog commenter but I wanted to let you know that you are not the only homesteading blogger that feels this way. 🙂
Regina Tonn says
Great post! Thank you for keeping it real. My chickens always stop laying in the winter but have started back this month! Looking forward to eating lots of eggs again.
My chickens were fine all winter, but I buy local from the feed store. If it weren’t for allll of the other weird things going on, plus the price of eggs in the store being ridiculous, I wouldn’t even question the reduced egg production. That said, there are too many coincidences for them to be coincidences in my opinion.
marty hadding says
My husband is fond of saying that there are two sides to every story and then the truth is usually found somewhere in between. I have found him to be correct more often than not 🙂
Granny Sue says
Good grief. Anyone who has read about chickens knows they need at least 14 hours of light daily to produce. And that the older breeds do not lay when moulting, while the newer hybrids continuously moult a little, so never really shut down egg production…unless of course they don’t get the required light, water, etc. I have had chickens almost continuously for over 50 years so know a little bit.
But your real.point, that there are not just 2 sides, that both can have some measure of truth, that there is grey area in all things, yes! So often, though, by trying to straddle that middle ground, I find that I am alone out there in no man’s land.
Sandra Reed says
Ok ..I have a question re :The Chicken Egg Reduction this year..In retrospect do you think there actually was a greater reduction and longer period of such this year? ( Grey Area Thinking)
God forbid we actually understand the natural way of things .. people have looked at me like I have 2 heads when I explain that chickens are just like other birds .. do we see wild birds laying eggs year round ? No .. unless intentionally wanting to mirror the corporate process of having our birds produce eggs for only a year of their life then sending them on for processing & replacing them with new birds, it’s imperative for the health of our birds to let them have that period of rest. I only have a few old birds at the moment .. until I get my health back on track I won’t be adding new ones .. but they’ve rewarded me lately with some beautiful eggs.. because they had their rest and are back to work. Keep up the good work in trying to promote sanity .. Sometimes it can be considered a compliment to be kicked out.