Month: August 2013

Chick Can Appreciate Chicks

It’s been a little over a year since we went to the “Chicken Swap” in our small rural community.  Honestly, we just went to meet a friend and see the animals.  To me it was just a novelty in our town.  We already had 4 dogs.  We didn’t need another animal.  On this day, we met a little boy who said, “Hey Lady, have you ever held a chicken?”  Next thing I know I was holding a rooster.  Bill, my husband was holding a hen.  Interestingly enough, we were given the crate to borrow for a few weeks.   How generous they were, I thought.  The farmers there offered their advice as we walked to our truck, like “don’t name them” or if you do name them, call them “Fried” and “Baked”.  They laughed and we just smiled.  In the end, we named them “Thurston” and “Lovey”.  Lovey wasn’t really all that loveable and Thurston just wanted to be held. 

We stopped at the local store to pick up lunch.  I felt guilty as I sat in the front seat with a box of fried chicken.  I asked Bill if he thought they could tell I was holding their cousins in my lap.  We laughed but we had pasta for dinner that night.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love fried chicken.  Love it!

We went back to the store to buy a little chicken coop.  It was perfect for 4 to 6 chickens.  We had 2 so it was larger than we even needed. Right?   I was surprised at how they just went upstairs on their own at dusk.  This was going to be a piece of cake!  That is, until they started roosting in the tree.  They flew up there.  I didn’t know that chickens could fly.  (They do!)  We spent so much time coaxing them out of the tree every night to get them in the coop. 

My little Thurston didn’t crow.  I wanted for him to cock-a-doodle-do!  I mean, what was the point of having a rooster, if you don’t get a wake-up rooster?  We were told to get more hens or Thurston would end up hurting Lovey.  We added 5 more hens.  We expanded the coop.  They all went up in the tree and they would fly away, but they always returned at night.  I was looking at chicken websites to find out what to do, what their sounds meant, what do they like for treats, what to do in the hot weather, and what to do with them in cold weather.  OK, it’s confession time.  I even took Thurston to the Vet to see why he wasn’t crowing.  He had a little upper respiratory infection.  Oh, and the chickens sneeze…and it’s kind of cute, really.  I put a little antibiotic powder in their water.  (I didn’t tell Bill that I took Thurston for a ride in the car.  He would have lost his mind.  Hi Honey, if you’re reading this!!)   And voile, he started crowing!  (Thurston crowed…not Bill!)  I like to think I helped him with the learning process because I would practice with him in the backyard.  Yes…I did.  (It’s only occasionally that I mind his dedication to the morning.  My dogs respond when “the alarm” sounds, so that is the annoying part.)

I cleaned the pen area every day.  They had clean water and I loved sitting out there with them.  Thurston had a “moment”, occasionally, where he would charge me.  Why would this rooster charge me when I was taking such good care of him?  I gave him food.  I gave him fresh water every day.  I even piled the leaves for him.  He loved that…to get on top of the leaves and pretend he was in charge.  I found that having the rake between me and him along with having eyes in the back of my head, truly helped.  I never touched him with “Rake”, but he didn’t love Rake.  I thought we had finally come to an understanding and I no longer would have to hold Rake.  One particular day when I was collecting the eggs , Thurston came after me!  Rake didn’t accompany that afternoon.  I found myself crawling across the ground because my leg hurt.  It felt as if I had blood running down my leg, as well.  Owah…this hurt!  Thurston walked up beside me all puffed up like, “hahahaha…take THAT!” When I finally got in the house I realized that I had pocketed my cell phone .  THAT’s what that pain was.  Even more painful was the fact that I had the eggs in the same pocket as the cell phone.  Soooo, let’s just say that I ended up getting a new phone.  The supposed blood that I felt dripping on my leg was indeed cracked eggs in my pocket.  And, rice doesn’t help “dry” the phone.  Rice is good with eggs if you’re going to make fried rice.  That’s pretty much the only time you want to mix rice and eggs.  

Having chickens…25 of them later is not a piece of cake, but now they have a 12’ x 12’ chicken coop with an enclosed area along with an area that is not enclosed.  12 of those 25 were little chicks that I got in the spring.  I had them in my husband’s bathroom tub.  They were adorable as they crawled all over me each morning.  My hubby didn’t appreciate the loss of his private bathroom but he found himself going in there to visit them, as well.  Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we lost 4 of our 3 month old chicks to a fox, who was apparently watching the hen house.  It broke my heart.  We have since reinforced the coop and we haven’t lost any of the others.  So, we have 19 chickens and I think I’m good with that number for now.  This was not as easy as they said, but oh, I’m so glad to have them.

I value having these beautiful birds.  I love every moment and every lesson that I’ve learned.  They also remind me of the following verses.  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious about being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these…”

Matthew 6:25-34(ESV)

Life’s not easy.  What I do know is that my Father will always care for me…no matter what will happen to me or my chicks in days to come.  Image

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Chick Gets More than she Gives

Five years ago while living in Virginia, I was asked to go to Pennsylvania to paint in calligraphy on the wall for a baby that was to be born.  It was a blessing for me to be able to paint this baby’s name.  You see, the parent’s had been married for twenty five years.  She was an unexpected but highly anticipated little miracle.  They called her “Siena”.

Paint, I need paint.  I brought some but not the right colors, which reminds me of a Halloween party I had at my house years ago.  All of the neighbors were invited.  We live in a rural area, so we decided to do a bonfire and wiener roast with s’mores and hot apple cider!  I got paint and pumpkins for the kids to paint.  (I didn’t want the mess of pumpkin guts or the risk of someone getting hurt with a knife.  And, I bought coat hangers to put the wieners on to roast in the fire.  I was excited. 

Because I had overalls, I decided to as a hillbilly.  I wore my overalls and blacked out a tooth, wore cowboy boots and had a headband that included a little felt cowboy hat and yarn braids!  I was ready.  I was a bit goofy, but I was ready.  The neighbors arrived and I was the only one dressed in costume.  FIRST STRIKE.  We painted the pumpkins and the kids loved every moment of it.  It was a hit!  They laughed and had a gift to take with them.  STRIKE TWO happened when I got the phone call from one of the parents stating the paint…was not waterproof.  Then it was time for the bonfire.  I handed Bill the coat hangers I had untangled.  With that dazed look, he explained that we couldn’t use plastic coat hangers to cook wieners in a fire.  (There we go again, Bill was right.)  STRIKE, well you know the answer to that.  I love children, but I don’t have any.  Can you tell?

 Aaaaaand, once again, I digress.

Where was I?  Oh, right….Pennsylvania.  Once there, we found the colors that were needed.  It was a simple job for me.  I painted little sparrows and the baby’s name was “Siena”.  As I was almost completed with the process, I realized that I painted the name as “SieNNa”!  It was only supposed to be one “n”!  Needing to cover the additional “n”, I needed supplies.  Calmly, I approached the owners and asked if they had any of that sweet …light…baby… pink paint.  You know, the color the walls were painted?  Of course they didn’t.  We then made a trip to the home improvement store to get more paint and sand paper to get rid of that pesky “N”!  What should have taken only a few hours turned to about an eight hour process.  May I add that it was beautiful?   I wanted it to be special.  It was just as I had imagined it, without the additional four or five hours!

Now, five years later, I understand that Siena, with one “n”, talks to the name on the wall as if she knows me.  Her momma says that “Summer is her BFF”.  (Summer is my first name, in case you don’t know me.)  What an unexpected gift of a new little friend…who I’ve still never met!   So today, I’m excited to send her “The Mermaid City” by Judy Norwood Enter and Illustrated by…ME!  I decided to sign it and carefully, with one “n” and “with love from her BFF, Summer”!  I wish I could be there to see her face!

By the way, no children or animals were harmed in the decoration of the pumpkins!  For now, I’ll stick to my dogs and chickens.  And, stay tuned for more about caring for chickens….It’s not for sissies! 

And, no matter what…decide to bless someone, give service from your heart today… and you will be blessed. Think of little Siena, with one “n”.  My tiny BFF has blessed me beyond measure.  Decide to complain less and bless more.  Make a conscious decision each morning to do that each day.  It will change your life.  It has continued to change mine.  

Chick Can Laugh at Herself

No, I’m not like “Elaine”?  Am I?  You remember “Elaine” from the Seinfeld show?  She had the, not so great dance moves and always seemed to find her way into a pickle of a situation.  I recall an episode where she invented an imaginary friend at work so she wouldn’t be bothered as much.  When this imaginary “friend” was preferred by her coworkers, she told them she died. She even planned an actual funeral of a woman who she created in her head.   She was asked to say a few words of comfort during the funeral… and she does.  Awkward!

Subsequently, this situation reminded me of a woman with whom I worked, who had a very dry sense of humor.  I made it a mission when I worked with her, to make her smile and giggle.  Because she stood behind a counter, I would walk by the counter and do something silly like pretending to walk down the stairs past her Customer Service counter.  It made her laugh every time.  And because I did a lot of projects displaying my calligraphy, I made a sign for her that displayed the words, “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.”  I have never heard anyone laugh as hard or for as long as Joyce did that day. 

Joyce loved the sign so much that she asked me to get frames and make inserts with the saying so she could share them with her three daughters.  I was honored that she loved my calligraphy and she was excited to give them as a motto for she and her daughters. 

Several weeks had passed and I asked why Joyce wasn’t at work.  I found that she had fallen ill and had been hospitalized.  They expected her to return home so I asked for her address.  Obviously, I wanted to make and send her a card with “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it”, as large as possible!  Because of the new laws, the corporate office wouldn’t divulge her home address, nor would they discuss her health status. 

Finally, one of the ladies at work was able to secure her address.  I sealed it with a kiss and placed it in the mail.  I just knew she was going to love it.  This is what she needed!  Unfortunately, the following day I learned Joyce had died.  Visibly I was shaken and tearful, I realized that I wouldn’t get to see her, talk to her again nor would I hear her infectious laughter, which is when she actually smiled or laughed.  Then the panic hit me.  Oh no.  No.  No.  I just sent the card saying, “put on your big girl panties and deal with it.”  Oh no.  How?  Why?  What would her husband think of this card?  I had never met him.  What…what is he going to feel about….this card or of me?

Maybe this is why people have called me “Elaine”?  I’ve got to explain to her family.   Corporate wouldn’t give me the phone number to call and even when I explained it to them. Especially, when I explained it to them, they wouldn’t give up the digits for Joyce’s family.  Imagine that!  Stupid HIPPA laws.  Hands in the air, I contemplated going to her house, but then that would have been even more than awkward, or that’s what Bill said.  (I’ve learned to listen to my ever so smart domestic associate on occasions like this.  Um….yeah, there’s been other situations like this, and he’s usually right.  I hope he’s not reading my blog!)

Running late for Joyce’s funeral, Bill reports that the room is full.  The escort took us to the second row.  It was marked with a sash for “family”.  Already uncomfortable, Bill looks at me with “that” look.  The family came in and looked over and here we were…not family, but sitting with family.   The flowers are lovely.  The music was inspiring.  Now, the minister shared words of love and encouragement to Joyce’s family.  “And Joyce received hundreds of cards and letters and I’d just like to read you one.”  Bill stuck his thumb in my side and we both looked like deer in headlights.   No, it wasn’t my letter, but afterwards, Bill said, “Let’s go Elaine.” 

As we exited the building I explained to Joyce’s husband about my note.  He smiled.  He hollered for his girls to come over to him.  He told them, “This is the girl who sent THE card!”  They all laughed.  Bill walked away and no one was harmed during the process. 

I wasted valuable time worrying and for what purpose?  I realize that I may be a bit like “Elaine”, but my heart and my intentions are good.  With a thankful heart, I had to laugh because in the end, Joyce got the last laugh at me!