Monday, August 29, 2011

When it's time to end

It seems like a mere blink ago that we were receiving these little ones into our hearts and home.  Oh, the anticipation...the excitement...the wonder and adoration when they finally arrived...
Acquiring chicks felt like we were finally, really living the "country life."  Silly to think, now, with the rise of urban chicken husbandry but, in our minds, chickens would fill out the picture of simpler living for us. 

Three years later, I don't know that I would say it was simple, but it has certainly filled out our lives.

We were complete newbies at this but we threw ourselves into the effort.  How difficult could it really be?
We managed to keep those little chicks alive, build them a coop (with almost 100% re-purposed wood), introduce them to our yard (and many neighbors' yards, as well), and to love on them daily.

In return, they provided us with beauty...



and, always, eggs...

Remember that I said we were newbies to this?  Well, the deep swoop of our learning curve has leveled out now and we have closed the first chapter of our "Chicken Experience."  Due to some ignorance, a misguided trust of dogs, the failure to ever electrify our ELECTRIC fence and several forgetful nights where we failed to close up the chicken coop, well...  we managed to whittle down our flock of 34 laying hens to one single, fluffy white, faithful, egg laying hen.  We have decided to give her to a neighbor with more chickens so that she doesn't have to be alone.  I won't pontificate on how I feel about how we got to this point.  I'll just say that I wish we had landed here by way of a different path.  But I will say this.

It has been a joy.

I highly recommend keeping chickens.  Always.

Yes, it's inconvenient when you go out of town and have to secure chicken-sitters. 

Yes, if left completely unattended, they will get in your flower beds and garden.

Yes, they can be stupid and dim witted at times (but who among us has not been described as such at some point?)

But they are also
easily contented,
make wonderful cooing sounds,
produce a miracle of nature EVERY DAY, no questions asked,
love "treats" like broccoli stems and bread crusts,
annihilate a tick population unlike anything I've ever seen,
and, if you're lucky enough to scoop one up and cuddle with it, they are like a little heater, purring under the grasp of your encircling arms, trusting you completely.

It will be strange not to see them out there in the yard.

But I tell you what, come Spring, we'll be pouring over the Hatchery catalog, sizing up the colors and attributes of every chick imaginable... because

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—

That perches in the soul—

And sings the tune without the words—

And never stops—at all—

Emily Dickinson

and so I count
--the zillions of hummingbirds, each vying for one of the feeders on our front porch as they tank up for their thousand mile journey
--the quiet of the morning when I stumble out the door to walk the dog and am bestowed with the gift of golden-laced clouds playing hide and seek with the sun
--pulling weeds..hard, back breaking work that is so very satisfying to my need for neat and tidy edges
--warm apple fritters that make boys giggle with glee
--the anticipation of friends gathering tomorrow for new adventures
--the strength and trust of a dear friend, facing major surgery with grace and peace
--the joy of another friend as she plans her small wedding ceremony and the fact that I am included among the small circle of friends and family blessed to be invited
--the promise of long needed answers to closely kept questions, despite how it might affect the future
--the abundance of food from the garden that simply must be shared
--the opportunity to serve from a place of strength and knowing that such a reality is only because of the ever flowing amount of grace of God...

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