Tuesday, June 30, 2015



They aren't very smart and get into trouble.

They can be picky eaters and picky sleepers.

They can make trouble and make messes.

And we found out they can get mean.

And I found out that I care about them more than I thought.

This is a chicken story, in two parts.


Our feathered girls have always been nice around and accommodating of kids' attention--except for once.

One hen decided to establish a clutch of eggs in the top right roosting box. Every time someone would go out to feed or check for eggs, she would noisily inform the seeker to mind their own business, thankyouverymuch. I knew we needed to get to those eggs before they rotted, and when I consulted the work chart, I asked the child whose weekly assignment was the chickens to get the eggs out of that box.

To say that Lily detests the chickens is putting it mildly. She's a little afraid of them and mostly annoyed by them. They smell and they take time and they tangle your steps when you upend the feed bucket. Reluctantly and loudly, she protested all the way out the door and back again. She tried, but that hen would not move, and Lily was done trying.

Hyrum is our chicken whisperer, and he quickly volunteered for duty. He disappeared out the door, but in less than a minute, his shrieks could be heard by those around the dinner table. I could tell by the cry that he was really hurt, not just pretending to be. He rounded the corner to the kitchen from the back door and blood was dripping from his face and he was gasping for air between his deep, painful sobs. I quickly grabbed a rag from drawer and tried to determine where all the blood was coming from and to piece together what happened.

Hyrum had tried to move the chicken, but she had fiercely defended her nest with her most powerful weapon--her beak. Before he had a chance to react (or to even think that he was in danger, since they had always been his pets and receptive of his affection), the chicken pecked his face. She made contact with the inside of his nose, leaving only a small mark inside one nostril but aggravating the inside membrane, like an unknowing child who picks until blood replaces booger.

He was lucky. I knew that. No lasting mark and no lost eye and no permanent damage. Except--fear. Now he is afraid, and that makes me sad.


Our feathered girls have a new enclosure. Six-foot tall rebar-enforced screen and latching gates have finally foiled their escape plans. As long as the kids remember to latch the gates when they finish their chicken chores, chickens can't destroy Brad's yard any more.

At least, that's what we thought, until the irrigation came down the first time.

When I closed the side gate on that irrigation afternoon, headed to kindergarten to read to the kids, I saw Sista (of our five chickens the only one that isn't red, so I know it's her) in the alley behind our house. How did she get out??? I thought she must have gotten through coop's gate without Brad noticing during the whole irrigation thing. I didn't have time to put her back in the coop, but I quickly chased her through the gate into the yard, where she was waiting after kindergarten story time.

And I promptly forgot all about the escape until two weeks later when irrigation day came around again.

This time, the irrigation came down in the night. When we woke up, the yard was blanketed with glassy water, and Sista once again was missing. I had the boys check the alley for her. She was nowhere to be found--only muddy chicken prints desperately left all along the back fence.

All day we searched for her, and she never appeared. It surprised me how much I cared about one lousy chicken. I mean, she was just a chicken, right? With her gone, that meant no more green/blue eggs mixed in with the brown, and that made me a little sad. Why?

She was just a chicken.

The next morning, after the kids had gone to school and I was taking out the trash, guess who wandered into the yard through the front gate, acting like nothing was out of the ordinary after having spent a night away from home?


Guess who was strangely relieved and happy at her return?


I saw myself in these two chicken stories.

No matter how ornery we are or how lost we get, God still loves us and wants us to stay safely in the coop with our family. Sometimes we peck back and think we know best, resisting His efforts to convince us our way is not best for us. I can't imagine how sad it must be when we wander off and can't get back home. I'm a lot like these chickens of mine. Ornery and lost sometimes, but nothing makes me happier than getting back to my own bed in my own house where I have my family and I'm safe.

Weird to learn life lessons from chicken parables.

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