My Life With Gracie…How To Draw Friendship

How To Draw Friendship

“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.

It was an unexpectedly warm spring evening, and I was enjoying being outside with my chickens.

“I’m reworking some of the drawings I made of you.”

“That’s odd. Why would you do that? Why not just work on something new?”

“I need to redraw them so they can print better. The ones I’ve been making will print too fuzzy, and you aren’t a fuzzy chicken.”

Gracie tilted her head, trying to figure out what a fuzzy chicken might look like. She didn’t understand digital graphics and the printing process, and I don’t understand it all either.

“Can I see?” she asked.

“Sure. What do you think?” I held up my iPad and she studied my drawings carefully.

“Is that supposed to be me?” she asked. “And is that supposed to be Bessie?”

“Yes. Don’t you like the drawings?”

“Well, I guess they are okay. If that’s what you’re going for. I like it better when you draw on paper with a pencil.”

“What’s the difference?”

“You’ve got everything in there and it doesn’t fit together. Too many big colors. Too many little shapes. Too many of everything! People aren’t going to be able to find us.”

“You’re sure? I took art classes, a lot of art classes.”

Gracie shook her head sadly. My drawings just weren’t going to receive her approval. But I did trust what she had to say. I wanted her to be pleased with my drawings, even if no one else was. These were drawings of her and for her.

“So what do you suggest?” I asked.

“Well, the colors are the main thing. You’re picking colors you like, not colors we like.”

“I see. So what colors do you like?”

“Colors that go with our feathers. Colors that go with our eggs. Soft colors. Hen colors, not rooster colors.”

“I think I see what you mean.”

“So why is it important that they print better?”

I was hoping she would have forgotten that part, but she is a very curious chicken.

“It’s a surprise, Gracie.”

“For me?”

“Yes, it’s a surprise for everyone who knows us really, but it is especially a surprise for you and Bessie. Your Hatchday, the day you and Bessie hatched out of your eggs, is next month.”

“Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but these drawings need to be good, and not just good for printing.”

“What makes a good drawing?”

“A good drawing makes people feel something when they look at it. A good drawing of chickens has to make people feel something good when they look at it.”

“What makes you feel good, Gracie?”

“Friendship.”

“Like with you and Bessie?”

“Yes, exactly. Draw Bessie and me and our friendship. Use colors that go with our feathers and go with our eggs. People will like those drawings.”

“Anything else?”

“It would be nice if there were little flowers sometimes. We are girls, and girls like flowers. Girls especially like flowers we can eat.”

“I understand.”

“That’s all. Just draw friendship. Chickens know a lot about friendship…and nice colors.”

Gracie had said all she wanted to say and went off nonchalantly to find something to eat before going up for the night.

I knew she was eager to see the new drawings I would make following her advice. She just wouldn’t let on about how eager she really was.

As I was securing the coop for the night, I asked, “Are you sure you didn’t take art classes, Gracie?”

She chuckled. “You’re being silly again!”

“You’re right. I just got carried away with adding more and more because…well, because so many good things come into my heart when I am drawing you. I didn’t realize all I needed to do was simply to draw friendship.”

“And…?”

“And I’m not going to tell you what your Hatchday surprise is!”

Then it was my turn to walk away nonchalantly.

My life with Gracie taught me girls like flowers and especially little flowers they can eat.

(I just would NOT recommend following this advice when choosing a gift unless it’s a gift for a chicken.)

You will notice a few subtle differences in today’s illustration. Perhaps the greatest is the use of highlights in their eyes which give the drawing an extra bit of “life” not possible with the crayon tool I was using before. Gracie has seen and approved today’s drawing. (Deep sigh of relief!)

How To Draw Friendship

My Life With Gracie…The Trouble With Words

The Trouble With Words

Gracie was quite emphatic that we had to do something immediately. We had to help The Big Boy at the end of the street because he needed eyeglasses much more than the new bicycle he had gotten for Christmas.

As with most concerns which my chickens have kept to themselves, it often takes a good deal of questioning to get to the bottom of the real story.

She insisted we had to take up a collection or have a yard sale or a bake sale or something to raise money for The Big Boy’s eyeglasses. It was causing The Little Boy at the end of the street a great deal of stress and tears.

Chickens may not totally understand and they may often misinterpret, but you do have to appreciate their caring hearts.

“Gracie, tell me why you think The Big Boy at the end of the street needs glasses.”

“He keeps telling The Little Boy ‘You’re a chicken,’ when he is clearly not a chicken. He is a boy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, The Big Boy will ride his new Christmas bicycle back and forth in the street and in circles around The Little Boy and say ‘Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!’”

“I see. Does The Little Boy ever ride his own new Christmas bicycle back and forth in the street.”

“No.”

“Not even a little?”

“No. We’ve seen him rolling it when The Big Boy is not around.”

“I see.”

This was not going to be an easy explanation.

“Gracie, it’s like this. He was calling his little brother ‘Chicken!’ because he was afraid to ride the new bike he got for Christmas.”

Gracie looked very puzzled.

“Gracie, when people say ‘You’re a chicken,’ it is like saying, ‘You’re afraid.’”

“People think that about chickens? That we are afraid?”

“Well, not all people, but some people.”

Gracie sat down in a huff. “That is very insulting to chickens!”

“I know.”

“And they need to stop doing that!”

“I know, Sweetie.”

“Why do they do that?”

“Well, I think The Big Boy wanted The Little Boy to get up the courage to ride his new bicycle and not worry about falling off or crashing.”

“So he was trying to help him?” she said, still perplexed.

“Yes, I guess you could say it that way.”

“And he was helping him by pretending he couldn’t see well enough to tell he was a little boy and not a chicken,” she said, still doubting this whole confusing situation.

“Yes. Sort of like that.”

“I will never understand people.”

“I agree with you. Neither will I.”

We both chuckled and shook our heads.

“Gracie, I love you.”

“What’s not to love? I’m a chicken!”

“Yes, that’s it, Gracie! He was calling his little brother a chicken because he loved him. He didn’t want the even bigger boys to pick on him even more.”

“So it was a good thing?”

“Well, is being a chicken a good thing?”

“Absolutely!”

“You are so right, Gracie. And I would never call you a scaredy cat.”

The same puzzled look came over her face again, but she quickly decided to leave her “scaredy cat” questions for another day.

My Life With Gracie taught me the importance of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

I will do my best to post several times each week. Thanks for reading! Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

The Trouble With Words

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