Monday, October 11, 2010

A Fowl Lesson, or What I Learned From Chickens

We board dogs. And cats. And this year, college students. Oh yes, and horses. The little endeavor has been successful, but this year handed us a challenge we hadn't met before - fleas. You'd think with all the animals around here that would have been a problem long ago, but it wasn't until this summer that we got hit by fleas - and that's not good for business.

Since I'm an organic, all-things-natural freak, I just refused to go the usual pesticide route and decided it was time to get some flea-and-tick-eating-machines - Guinea Fowl.
The Guineas are really good at their job, but not only that - they're very entertaining. Since I raised them from chicks, I am - apparently - Mama, and when I step outside they come running and flapping and squawking. It's hysterical. I told John I now have an official fan club.

One day, the Mockingbirds decided that they'd had enough of the new neighbors, and undertook a day-long battle against the Guineas. They played the part of attack aircraft and dive-bombers while the Guineas played the part of the tanks. The Guineas ended up with a lot of feathers out of place, but their steadfastness won the day and the Mockingbirds conceded defeat.

Here's a photo of "The Yard Patrol."Of course, now that we had one kind of fowl roaming around, there's no reason not to have chickens, right? I've always wanted chickens, so why not? So I went to the shopping source of anything-you-want (a.k.a. Craigslist) and found someone who builds Chicken Arks. Chicken Whats? Arks - you know, something that's carried around with pole-like handles. Not like Noah's. This particular ark is an English design and is really pretty clever. Google it and you'll probably find some plans. This design allows for free-ranging the birds on grass without the danger of predators. Every 2 - 4 days you move it to another spot - the chickens have eaten bugs, aerated the grass and fertilized it as well. AND you get eggs!I found my chickens on good ol' Craigslist, too. They were on a farm not far away, and the farmer and I had some good exercise chasing chickens for awhile. Older farmers around here are just wonderful. They're weather-beaten and gnarled and kind as anything. They love to tell stories about the land and their animals, and I love to listen. So, Mr. Mayhew told me all I needed to know about chickens, and I went home with 3 Red Stars and 3 Black Sex-links (which are a cross between a leghorn ("leggern") and something else he didn't remember.Here are a couple of Red Stars eyeing the iPhone.
These are young chickens - pullets - that have just begun to lay, and I was told it may take them a week to settle down after their truck ride home before they began laying again. But, apparently they liked their new digs and we had our first egg in just 2 days! It was as much fun as Easter egg hunting to find that egg!The Guineas ("The Guys") and the hens ("The Girls") make good neighbors for each other and it really is pleasant for us to watch the birds - kind of like watching cows, I guess - it's good for your blood pressure.

It's also good as a reminder of my relationship with the Lord. And how - you may ask - how could silly, simple birds teach me something about myself and my Creator? Easy. This morning I accidently missed the latch on one of the Chicken Ark doors and several minutes later out flew all the chickens! Chickens and Guineas were everywhere and I thought, dear Lord, what am I going to do? Well, I didn't have to think for long because as soon as they spotted me about 100 feet away, they all came running and squawking straight for me! Despite the fact that the chickens were suddenly in the great unknown, they spotted what they did know and came running. I'm quite sure that it had to do with the fact that I feed them, but nevertheless they came running. It ended up being no problem getting them back in the Ark - just throw some food in and voila! chickens are safely home. And it immediately make me think ...

When I am suddenly thrust outside my safe circumstances and everything becomes strange and frightening, do I look for the Father and run lickety-split straight to Him? Often not. Many times I fall prey to the predator of self-sufficiency, thinking that I can take care of everything all by myself. I'm strong and able, right? No, I'm more like a chicken just running around aimlessly and not seeing the big picture. I just THINK I can manage it all.

Jesus tells us to come to Him. His yoke is easy, his burden light. (Matthew 11: 28-29) He is peace and strength and rest and provision. It's not up to me anyway - it never was. I don't have to exhaust myself by trying to figure it all out - I have only to run to Him who loves me and cares for me.

"... who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began..." 2 Timothy 1: 9

So it is that God reveals Himself to us and speaks comfort to us through His Word and through His creation - even chickens.


Aunt Ruth said...

Another great one. I look forward to your posts and wish I found a new one more often. Keep it up, you are very good at this.

Susan said...

This is a beautiful post on so many levels.