My Life With Gracie…This New Day

This New Day

A week ago, I imagined I would be writing something very brief like “Due to Hurricane Florence, I’ve been unable to post anything for today. The chickens and I are hunkering down as the storm is passing through Coastal Virginia.”

With the storm having taken a turn and passing through Coastal North Carolina instead, I had more time for today’s cartoon and story. Hopefully I’ve found something meaningful to say for any day, stormy or calm.

The words “This New Day” took on additional meaning for me once my chickens moved outside from the safety of their brooder in my sunroom. That first night was a nearly sleepless one for me. I couldn’t wait to get up the next morning, go outside, and do a “beak count.” All safe.

Nighttime is a very scary time for chickens. They have no night vision. Once the evening comes and sunlight grows faint, they go up to roost in their coop (or up into tree limbs in the wild). Nighttime is their most vulnerable time because they are unable to see predators. They can’t defend themselves against what they can’t see.

Hurricanes and catastrophes and unfortunate life circumstances are much like that as well for people. Sometimes it maybe difficult, but I think it’s still important to be grateful just for making it safely into the next new day.

Sometimes at night, particularly if it’s windy or rainy or snowing, I will just go outside to be with my chickens. I will usually hear a soft little chicken sound made to see if it’s me or a predator. I’ll answer back, “It’s just me, your Daddy.” Then we talk for a while and they go back to sleep while I watch over them.

Whether they understand and appreciate this or not, I’m unsure. I like to believe they are thinking, “He is in this with us.”

I do this for them, of course, but I also do it for myself. It reminds me I’m being watched over as well.

My Life With Gracie let me know with certainty what it means to be brought in safety to this new day.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

This New Day

My Life With Gracie…Running From Changes

Running From Changes

Chickens can run around as part of a fun game they make up. They can also run around because they are scared and confused. For whatever reason, I always see them as little baby chicks when they are running around even though they are all now mature egg-laying hens. (That is why I’ve shown them as chicks for today’s cartoon.)

Sunday was a coop and run construction project day, and it caused the scared and confused kind of running around. Usually they don’t mind a project day. They can watch me while I’m working in the garage and carrying things around. They study everything I’m doing and even how power tools work, particularly Lefty before he moved to a farm. But Sunday was different because I was working overhead.

I had originally finished off their new bigger home with a plastic weatherproof tarp this spring. It stood up to spring showers and summer thunderstorms, but it wasn’t going to hold up to the hurricane predicted to head our way.

After doing as much work as possible in the garage, it was time to replace the old tarp covering with a permanent solid roof. My girls did not like that at all. They didn’t like it when I pulled off the old tarp. They didn’t like it when I moved my ladder into their space. They really didn’t like it when the new roof was hoisted up and attached to the frame of their coop and run.

Bessie was the only one who seemed unaffected. She just sat in the coziness of her favorite nesting box, calmly working on laying her egg while below everyone else was frantically sounding alarms and running everywhere.

I’d like to think they were upset about my redecorating choices. I imagined them saying, “Do you see the color on that roof? Where they all out of samples for you to bring home and try out?” or “That ladder does not match the nesting boxes. What were you thinking?!?”

But really, they didn’t know what was going on. They didn’t know there was a potentially catastrophic hurricane heading our way. They didn’t know I was working to protect them. They didn’t hear me saying in a soothing way, “It’s going to be okay, Sweeties. Your Daddy is just making you safe and protecting you. It’s not so pleasant right now, but it will be worth it. You’ll see.”

All they had to do was look up and see. All they had to do was listen to my voice, and they would know I wasn’t being angry or mean. Then they would understand I wasn’t trying to hurt them. At least that’s what I hoped. But I knew they wouldn’t. I just had to work fast so things could get back to normal.

Later I realized how too often in my life, I’ve panicked like my chickens did. It was often when changes were happening and I felt powerless to stop or even influence those changes. I didn’t look up. I didn’t trust there were often reasons for things I couldn’t understand at the time.

I was too often much too quick to react in fear rather than calmly watching plans far beyond my understanding being worked out in my life. So many times it could have all been so much easier.

My Life With Gracie made me realize things are much scarier when you don’t look up.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Running From Changes

My Life With Gracie…My Little Olympians

My Little Olympians

Spring is a perfect time to raise baby chicks. Of course, I’m saying this from a chicken’s perspective. Yes, spring is the Easter season, but to a chicken it’s also “worm season”!

With the frequent spring showers, there are worms everywhere! Every morning I would lift up the pavers and bricks and logs scattered around my back yard and collect earthworms for my chick. It was instant frenzy as soon as I tossed a worm into their brooder box.

Whoever got to it first would take it and run! Everyone would follow, hoping to grab it away from the lucky chick who was being chased! Each worm would get passed around several times before one really lucky chick figured a way to dodge and block the others while maneuvering into a good spot long enough to gobble the worm down. Victory!

Around and around they would go in their big oval gray brooder. With their water bottle and food dish in the center, it was very much like a sports stadium. They were my little Olympians competing in the “Worm Olympics”! I’m unsure who looked forward to it the most each morning: them or me!

It really did take considerable skill to figure out how to keep others from snatching the worm away while moving into a position to be able to gobble down the worm. Turning this way and that, dodging and then almost colliding with each other all added to the excitement.

They were hilariously entertaining. There was only one direction to go: forward! And only one speed: as fast as their little feet would carry them!

It was their game, and somehow they made up their own rules. They owned it. I was just the referee who supplied the “worm toss” to start each contest.

Maybe for my chickens, it was perhaps more about having such great fun with their game. There was never any quarreling over who finally got the worm. There were always plenty of worms. (I saw to that!)

Too often with people, I see it being more about greediness over an imagined limited supply of goodness. There is never a scarcity of the truly good things.

My Life With Gracie taught me it isn’t always possible to have your worm and eat it too. And that’s okay.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

My Little Olympians