animals

Chick & Her Roo: It’s REAL Life, too.

Fostering the chicks

Fostering the chicks

After three months of fostering 2 little chicks, it was time for them to go to their forever home with my friend Jean. My heart was sad but I know that she will treasure them and keep them safe, but wait…that’s not how the day started.

Yawning, I turned the shower on but the phone rang and off went the shower.

I need you. I need Bill. My goose was attacked and she’s laying in the yard fighting for her life. She’s still alive. Please send Bill to help me. I can’t handle this on my own.

Now Bill had just closed his eyes for a much deserved afternoon nap. Putting my hand on his shoulder, I whispered that our friend needed him. He didn’t pause although he did sigh when I told him why she needed him. Changing his clothes, he asked what she wanted for him to do. That, I could not answer. This was not his favorite kind of call to take, as you may imagine.

“BUT IF ANYONE HAS THE WORLD’S GOODS AND SEE HIS BROTHER IN NEED, YET CLOSES HIS HEART AGAINS HIM, HOW DOES GOD’S LOVE ABIDE IN HIM?” -1 JOHN 3:17

Waiting for him to return, I decided to start preparing the casseroles for several families that I had promised. As I was shredding the chicken, I was looking out my kitchen window and see the irony as my live chickens ran around the back yard.

Over an hour later, Bill returned home.

What took you so long?

She wanted me to save the goose. Because this had happened yesterday, the goose had flies surrounding it…she was in pain, so I “put her down”. I dug the hole and she is at rest now. (By the way, by “her”, he was referring to the goose. You probably knew that, but…) The other 45 minutes was spent talking to her and comforting her.

“BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL FOR THEY SHALL RECEIVE MERCY.” –MATTHEW 5:7

Oh, and I told her that we may want 1 male and 1 female goose.

Looking around, I tried to locate my husband…I could not understand what he was saying. This is the same man that says we have enough.

But they are geese that warn the chickens of predators.

Uh, huh…

They will stay with the chickens.

Uh huh…

*Our friends always call me the crazy chicken/dog lady. Sooo, who is who around here? Just sayin’…

Before he went to lay back down for his nap, I told him our other friend, who is retired and couldn’t start with the baby chicks, was coming to pick up the little ones we’d had for 3 months – the ones we had fostered for her. No doubt that Bill was as attached to them as I was. I realize this sounds ridiculous, but oh…so…true. We went out to the pen to visit with them when our friend arrived. We chased them down and put them in a box. I ran back into the house, as she was one of the casserole recipients. Again, I found it ironic as I placed her chicken casserole in the front seat of her car while HER beautiful chickens were in the backseat.

“DO NOT NEGLECT TO DO GOOD AND TO SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE, FOR SUCH SACRIFICES ARE PLEASING TO GOD. “ –HEBREWS 13:16

Meanwhile, I get a text message from our 11-year-old neighbor. He reports that the dozen eggs I gave him for his school project ALL HATCHED. (Oh fantastic.)

Adam, I’m so glad for you. What does that mean?

Ms. Summer, You may pick them up on Wednesday because school is out on Thursday.

Perfect. Now, we will have a dozen more chicks that are 2 weeks old and un-sexed, meaning we may have 12 roosters. We won’t know until we get perfectly attached with love to each one of them. I can’t wait! I don’t even know how they sex them until they are 5 or 6 months old. I’ve heard wives tales about how to sex them; but that’s not scientific. (Lay them on their backs and if their legs stretch out they are roosters…or is it hens? I can’t even remember the wives tale!)

Bill doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of this…not one of these things. I wonder if being married to me has him used to being on your toes at all times. He acts as if all of this is natural. The one thing I know is this. I know this is love.

As I sit and reflect on this single day in my life, I understand that I need to thank God for the big and the small things every single day. Besides that, if I don’t thank him in the good times as well as the bad, especially today, I may not have time after Wednesday when we include a dozen chicks and 2 adolescent geese…geese.

“DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT IN EVERY SITUATION, BY PRAYER AND PETITION, WITH THANKSGIVING, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD.” –PHILIPPIANS 4:6

You know that those geese will probably head from Virginia to Texas to my friends in the winter! And, you’re welcome! I guess I need to look into baby pools? I don’t have a pond except for the one in front of the house. It might hold tadpoles. I can’t see it holding even one goose. They are going to need water. Right? Oh man…I guess I’ll need to join another FB group, where we pray about someone’s goose that may or may not make it because of some stupid nature creature that attacked it. Don’t get me wrong, we prayed for a sick rooster last summer that deserved the prayers to God; BUT I noticed that he had 75,000 followers. Yes. Yes, he did.

The truth is that in having the animals it helps to keep me active. Left to my own devices, I might let this arthritis, the kind that has my joints degenerating at a rapid pace and that tries to strangle my everyday activity, actually strangle me to a chair. There is a reason and a season for every single one of the animals inside and outside of our house. God knew before I was born what I would need and he provides. He provided for me prior to my own birth.

“THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERYTHING, AND A SEASON FOR EVERY ACTIVITY UNDER THE HEAVENS.” –ECCLESIASTES 3:1

Now this day…this day that I am telling you about didn’t end yet. We soon left after receiving a call from another neighbor down the road to please come to their house, now. Without explanation, we put our shoes on and left the house. After arriving there, Bill met with the husband and I went inside and met with the wife. We prayed together for what this family is encountering. No details needed except that I praise God for this day. I praise him because he never lets me out of his sight. He knows what I need. He knows who needs him.

Am I perfect? No. Am I a Christian, even when people say “and you call yourself a Christian”? Yes. I am his daughter. I am his imperfect, chosen, loveable and tired daughter; but I get up and receive new joy every morning. I have never been happier.

“IN HIM WE WERE ALSO CHOSEN, HAVING BEEN PREDISTINED ACCORDING TO THE PLAN OF HIM WHO WORKS OUT EVERYTHING IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PURPOSE OF HIS WILL, IN ORDER THAT WE, WHO WERE THE FIRST TO PUT OUR HOPE IN CHRIST, MIGHT BE FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY.” –EPHESIANS 1:11-12

Did I mention that I still didn’t get that shower I started on this day? No one seemed to care and I frankly, I didn’t either. God knows. As we know and we know now that “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

This entire day reminds me of how much I love God. He is the Word. He sacrificed everything for me. So I believe I can spend time with him everyday. Most of all, I’m a believer.

Are you in a season of life you don’t understand? Do you ask why things happen? Lets talk about it. Lets find him in the details of what’s happening in your life. There’s nothing more exhilarating or satisfying than knowing there is a plan – which the Holy Spirit moves in your life. There is no such thing as perfect.

A Year in Review at the Chicken Coop

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One year ago, I became a chicken veterinarian. Well, not really, but I played one on television. O.K.! That didn’t happen either. I actually became a self-proclaimed chicken doctor at home. I really did. You see there’s not that many Vets who will actually treat a sick pet chicken. (I did find a Vet that is about 45 minutes from here that will treat squirrels, chickens, turtles…you name it and they work to cure them for a price! And, I am sure that they have many stories to laugh at during dinner conversation or when they are driving to the bank!)

A little over a year ago, my beloved rooster, Thurston had been protecting his flock when he was attacked by the infamous chicken hawk. For three months I bathed him…in Bill’s bathtub. (Don’t worry! I cleaned it after each time. Trust me, that bathtub was cleaner than your bathtub on its best day! Yes, it was! And, that is a great husband who allows those kinds of shenanigans!) I even used my blow dryer to dry his feathers. He loved the warm flow of air and he’d coo. I treated his wounds with the necessary ointments and antibiotics. During the day, he stayed on our enclosed porch. (I cleaned that everyday, too!) He spent his nights in a crate in our laundry room. (Just so you know, I cleaned that everyday. Sheesh!) He was well cared for while he was sick.

Thurston would get better but then would reopen his wounds, as he would start to heal. It was so frustrating. To protect himself…from himself, I made a “cone of shame” for him. With this contraption around his neck, he wasn’t supposed to be able to reach his wounds. That worked for a while, but then the foam cone started to irritate his neck and it had to be removed. Eventually, he developed an infection. There was nothing I could do to make it better. Before he was put down, he actually came to the front porch and stood on the steps near where I was sitting and cooed at me. Running inside the house, I couldn’t stop crying…over a chicken!

When we bought Thurston and Lovey, we walked them to the car and we discussed names for them. Men who were there selling meat chickens suggested their own ideas:

Fried and Dinner!

Tired yet excited from our chicken swap experience, we stopped to pick up lunch on the way home. It wasn’t until we had the fried chicken in the car that I looked at Bill with the look of horror as they then rode in the backseat. (Maybe “those men” were right.) It just felt wrong.

Nature is not kind, my friend. In the last year we have lost our beloved Thurston and Lovey. We got them three years ago. They were our first chicks. I cried with each loss. I am not sure what happened to Lovey because she passed away while I was out of town. Bill said he didn’t want to tell me over the phone, but he had to let me know she was gone. A few days later Bill posted on Facebook that he’d made the BEST chicken piccatta that he’d ever had. (Discuss amongst yourselves!) I did ask if it was a Lovey picatta. (To clarify, he said it wasn’t!)

Having little living creatures to care for is not for the faint at heart. There’s loss because of other creatures and there’s the cleaning aspect. Oh, that’s not my favorite part of having chickens but I do it. Summertime is particularly difficult as the smell of chicken poo is at its full glory! Wow. It can be quite the experience. In fact, I was out cleaning on one particular day with my bucket and shovel inside the rather large coop that my sweet husband built for me. He was outside blowing leaves and didn’t know I was inside the coop but somehow noticed the latch outside wasn’t locked. He locked it and went about his chore of leaf blowing. (That machine is loud y’all!) I turned to open the door and to my dismay, I couldn’t. Looking out the beautiful antique window with chicken wire on it, I see Bill and begin screaming through the screen! (Imagine a man with earphones as he listens to his favorite music with a leaf blower while a woman in a chicken coop tries to get out of the tiny chicken door. Imagine her as she stares at a window that is covered with chicken wire and also only opens halfway. It was not calm, dear friend!) Finally, after about thirty minutes of looking for a way out, I imagined that the chickens were definitely safe at night. I also imagined ways I would punish Bill, if he ever figured out that I was missing. Then it happened. He eyes me from across the yard as I was jumping up and down in the window. I’ll let you figure out what happened next. The good news is that there was actually side splitting laughing on both of our parts! It’s part of my marriage that I love the most!

Maybe you’ll remember that last year at this time, I was asking Bill if I could start harvesting honey. Of course that involves having bees in our backyard. Bill is not a fan of bees, so we didn’t get bees. I even vowed not to get any chicks but to simply handle the animals that we had. That all changed after losing Thurston. Believe it or not, it was part of Bill’s idea. I never thought I’d want another rooster. I mean you don’t need a rooster for eggs. (I know that half of you reading this didn’t know that! Admit it! You didn’t! I didn’t know it until we had a rooster and a hen! I’ll admit that!)

It wasn’t until we attended the largest Chicken Swap I’d ever encountered in May that I considered more chicks. (Remember I said this was Bill’s idea!) This farm only hosts this event two times a year where they invite others from all over to visit their farm. They have every kind of animal you’d see on a farm that visitors could buy or trade. I mean there is an ark of a selection there!

Walking every aisle at the swap, I found him. He was lying on his back in the arms of the owner as she rubbed his stomach. (I couldn’t believe it either! I mean, who doesn’t like a good belly rub?) Every other chicken in the place was between ten dollars to fifteen. This little man was thirty-five. His breed wasn’t rare, but his color was. He came as a second generation from a famous farm. (Bill mouthed the words “rare” and “Gucci bird”, etc.) As soon as I held him, I wanted him. As soon as Bill saw me holding him, he asked how much for two birds because this rooster couldn’t be alone as we were raising him! And, well he knows me too well! We got two birds.

We’ll swing by to pick them up as we try to find a box to put them in.

These people weren’t giving us a chance to walk away from them without a sale. They had a box and they filled it with some shavings and as they handed the BEAUJANGLE’S FRIED CHICKEN BOX to us. In fact, we had to walk all the way through the swap to the car with this fried chicken box and two chicks poking their heads out of the holes! People stopped us. They pointed at us! They took selfies with us and laughed. (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted!)

We named him Beau. It just seemed natural! The hen became know as Henrietta. That seemed equally as natural! After they’d grown big enough to blend with the rest of the flock, they stuck together like glue. Beau is not as large as Thurston was. They are the same Wyandotte breed. That said, maybe he’ll grow in the next year. Only time will tell his story, or I will relay it to you as it progresses!

Months later, I allowed the flock to free range. They typically will stay pretty close together. They don’t leave the property. During the day, the only predators are usually just hawks and dogs. On one such day, I stayed outside raking and cleaning while they were out running the property. I heard an unusual SQWACK! Slowly I turned, step-by-step, inch-by-inch and then into a run toward a man who had SaraAnne underneath his arm. He had jumped a four-foot fence, walked at least twenty feet and snatched up my beautiful white hen. Before he had a chance to get back over the fence, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked his intention.

I’m taking home dinner.

Needless to say, I grabbed her from him and informed him that I was taking back my SaraAnne. He looked to the left and right and I wasn’t sure of his next move and then he turned and left. By the urging of my neighbor, I called the police. Thankfully, he was a kind officer. He was a chicken owner as well, so he understood. His belief was that this chicken thief left because he saw the black SUV with state plates. The police officer said I was lucky. He asked why I confronted him and grabbed the chicken.

It’s my chicken.

In my mind, that guy was lucky…no one takes my pet I’ve never given consent for a play date for any one of them, by the way.

And here we are. It’s spring again. At least I think it is. We had snow last week! I found myself at the local feed store getting feed for our four dogs and our sixteen chickens. There was an entire display for harvesting honey. Here I am again. Every year I see this display and think bees are a good idea. Every year Bill says no. I suppose he’s right about that. I’ve had a few accidents along the way. And how would you name each of those bees? (You see my dilemma?)

“The chicks just came in today! I haven’t even put them out yet. Do you want to see them? I’ll make you a good deal! I know you want some!”

Like a deer in headlights, I said no. She seemed confused. My heart was saying yes, but my husband’s answer came out of my mouth. All the way home with two babies in the floorboard of my car, I kept thinking of how to explain this to Bill. Driving home, I called my sister to get her help and she confirmed that I was in trouble. I pulled into our long driveway that seemed like it was longer that day than it ever had been! As usual, Bill came out of the house. (He always helps me with groceries, etc. every time so I knew he’d be there. Now what?) I hushed the chicks. Bill immediately started getting the feed out and “peep…peeep”.

Summer….No.

They are Jean’s!

She is my mentor and she also has chickens. She mentioned that she’d wanted to get some chicks to add to her flock but she couldn’t raise them from the baby stage right now. In order to redact my lie to Bill, I texted Jean and asked her if she wanted two Speckled Sussex hens when they were old enough to add to her chickens. She was thrilled and asked how many I got for myself. I cried…none. These are just for her. She called this a blessing, I was thankful to God! (Don’t tell Bill!)

Several weeks later and I was again at the feed store. My favorite breeds of chicks were there that day. I got what I needed and left to go home. I was so proud of myself until I found the car driving back to take one last look at the chicks. Next, “peeep peeeeeeep” was heard in the floorboard of my car. I justified this because I knew my husband would (1) not be home before me that day and (2) wouldn’t be able to determine two more sets of peeps before he left town the next day! Hurried, I placed the other box on its side next to the other box in the bathtub upstairs. I got the larger water container along with the other large feeder. It was set and Bill wasn’t home. Free and clear, or so I thought.

Whew! He was gone. I was cleaning the tub all by myself as they ran the length of the bathroom and my phone rang. It was Bill. He calls to tell me his status on the road. He then said some other things that had me baffled.

You know, last night your chicks were making quite the ruckus last night. I decided I’d better go check on them.

Yeah?

Yeah, and you know what? They multiplied!

They did?

Yeah, and you know what else? They have quite the skills because they’ve built another condo, too!

Really?

Yeah. You don’t know anything about this, do you?

I know that it takes 21 days for an egg at optimum temperature to hatch. Those two that are up there aren’t even old enough to have eggs!

Hmmmm….This is a true mystery then.

Insert continuous laughing by both of us! I had tears in my eyes. I’m so grateful to be married to this man. Any other man would have run for the hills long ago. I don’t know that he hasn’t thought about it, but I’m thankful he’s still here!

So, consider this a cautionary tale. It’s not really a tale. It is my life, but consider this a caution and remember:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. ‘But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
~Matthew 10-:29-31

Since this is true. I must be really valuable! I’m truly grateful that God is in control.
I’m more thankful that God loves you and me more than I could actually love these beautiful fuzzy little creatures. THAT is love. You are loved. You are worthy. Claim that truth for yourself today! I know I will.

Until next time….Let me know if you have name suggestions for these two chicks!

Chick Can’t be a Veterinarian

Reflecting on the past is important in order to know where I’m going in the future. There’s two ways to look at this. For one, I’ve made a lot…a dozen or possibly a million mistakes and I believe I’ve learned a lesson or two from those ugly incidents. Frankly, that’s why I am who I am. It’s why I think too much now.

Let’s take my job search, for instance. It’s been difficult after being laid off of the same job twice. (By the way, I don’t think many people can say this…or would admit returning to a job which laid them off even one time…but I digress.)

Because of our rural domain, I decided to interview for a local veterinarian’s office. I mean, I love animals. Sure, my college degree is Interior Design, but I was open to new possibilities! After the interview, they offered me a position which sounded perfect. It was close to home. I would work with humans and the dogs alongside the vet. How hard could this be?

I’m shaking hands. I’m excited! “Oh and you’ll want to come in at the end of this week. On Friday’s we put some of the shelter dogs ‘down’. We’ll just need you to cuddle and comfort them.”

Silence.

I couldn’t hear another word.

“See you on Friday. Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.”

Returning home, my face was swollen and puffy. I cried for hours before my husband got home. I washed up…put on a happy face and reported with tears the size of alligators that “I got the job!”

Hubby called me repeatedly for the following two days to say,”Call them back…you’re not taking that job. We don’t have a kennel. I know you. We’ll end up becoming a shelter for everyone of those animals on Fridays!”

I continued to cry for two days as I tried to convince myself with their words “you’ll get used to it.”

He was right. I wouldn’t get used to it. I don’t work there and we are currently are the house of 4 dogs and 17 chickens.

Can you imagine if I’d taken that job? I had to examine my past and my present to determine my future.

What’s next, you ask? Stay tuned.