My Life With Gracie…Smallest Voices

Smallest Voices

Emily, my bashful Little Lady, was unwilling to pose for this illustration, and so I will honor her wishes even though today’s story couldn’t be told without her. She is shown here as still a young chick with her first distinctive feathers developing which provide beautiful camouflage.

When Emily and Amelia joined the four others, they ended up in the middle of the pecking order. They would even take on larger chickens to hold onto their place in the middle.

But that lasted only a few months for Emily. She could only puff out her feathers so much to appear larger and only stand but so tall to appear more assertive. She was unable to hide her true gentle nature from the others. She ended up on the bottom of the new pecking order.

Emily is different from all my other chickens. She is a Gold Laced Wyandott. Not only is her size noticeably smaller, but her comb is different too. It doesn’t stand up with points like the “single comb” which all the others have. She has a “rose comb” which is shorter and plumper and reminds me very much of a French beret. It fits her calm and sophisticated demeanor.

She is also the only one with a neck covered in black and gold iridescent feathers! It fascinates me how even with such splendid feathers and patterning, she is able to blend into the background.

With these beautiful adornments, it seems odd for her to still be at the bottom of the pecking order, but chickens see things differently than people.

This means she is likely to get pecked on her head whether she deserves it or not. This also means she is often hesitant to move forward for favorite treats, and so she only occasionally knows what it’s like to have the best of anything.

These things make me sad for her, but it’s just the way chickens are. This was not an easy lesson for me to learn. Sometimes I give her special treats when no one else is looking. As I have told her so many times, she is my sweetheart and always will be.

You might think she is a social outcast, without a voice to be heard by any of the others, but it is not that way with chickens and their pecking order. It might be that way with people, but it’s just not that way with chickens and not that way with Emily.

If Emily senses or sees danger, her eyes lock on it. Her body locks on it. The only movement she makes is with her throat muscles as she makes a low, specialized sound to the others to warn them.

Everyone else freezes, looking in whatever direction they happen to be facing, searching for danger. No one else makes a sound, only Emily. Whatever it might be, Emily is in charge. All of the others listen attentively to her and watch.

Any of them can be the one who spots the danger and takes charge. It just seems to be Emily most often because she is more attuned to her surroundings than the others.

Perhaps there are special survival skills one develops by being at the bottom.

With chickens, no one is discounted or treated as worthless. The safety of the flock depends on everyone, including its weakest and least member. This is true even when they are the only one of their kind, like Emily.

With chickens, their pecking order is not about authoritarian rulership. With people, too often those in authority either refuse to hear or do all they can to silence the most defenseless voices. Don’t ever let your voice be silenced when you know things are not as they should be.

My Life With Gracie reminded me even the smallest voice matters.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This week I am a little off schedule. How to draw Emily and what kind of background to use were my main challenges. It also took time to put together my thoughts for what to say to my readers who may feel like they don’t matter, are treated differently, and have no voice. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Smallest Voices

My Life With Gracie…Of Light and Life and Love

Of Light and Life and Love

With the First Sunday of Advent and the First Night of Hanukkah coinciding this year, it may be a good time to consider Light and Life and Love…regardless of faith tradition…and even if you don’t have a faith tradition at all.

With my chickens, they depend on light.

It means their life. They can’t see anything without it. They don’t have night vision like the raccoons and opossums and foxes which try to get to them in the darkness.

It also means their love. Everything they love is bathed in light with each new day…their garden, their friends, and of course, their food!

Since I’ve never asked them, I’m not sure what my chicken think about the flashlight I use to check on them in the night.

Perhaps it is like a small piece of the sun to serve as a reminder in even the darkest night that their next new long-awaited day will come. Perhaps it is a bit of comfort and hope to hold onto until all is right with the world once more.

You and I, we can be like that for others.

The world…not just the chicken world, but the people world too…needs a bit of comfort and hope until all is right with the world once more. Perhaps that is one meaning of Advent and one meaning of Hanukkah too.

My Life With Gracie brought me a new appreciation of Light and Life and Love.

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

Of Light and Life and Love

My Life With Gracie…Endless Wonder

Endless Wonder

This post is next in a sequence which began with a previous post about Bessie that you may want to read as well.

It was definitely way past Bessie’s bedtime, but sometimes there are more important things than getting tucked in for the night on schedule. This was one of those times.

Bessie had been shedding feathers everywhere over the previous few days, and that morning as I headed off to work, she was looking and feeling miserable. With so many feathers missing, it was turning out to be an especially tough molting season for her.

So in the evening, I helped her on with her apron and chef’s cap and said, “Come on, Sweetheart. Come, follow me.”

She was hesitant at first, partly because of it being close to bedtime, and partly because chickens like to stick with their bedtime roosting friends in the evening hours.

She had not been inside my house since she was a very young chick, and even then it had only been in the sunroom brooder box at the back of the house. Although there had been a few close calls with baby chicks wanting to do a little too much exploring, none had ever been anywhere else in the house.

As we went into the sunroom, Bessie shared a few dim memories. “Oh, yes. I remember that spot. Lefty flew there the time he got out when you were cleaning the brooder box. You were flapping like a baby chick yourself when he did that!”

She also shared some of her clearer memories which I had almost forgotten. “And there’s where you had the television set that kept us up way past our bedtime…when you didn’t understand why we were peeping in such a loud annoying way during all of your favorite shows! We wanted to go to sleep!” Bessie and I both chuckled.

All of my chickens get chatty like this when they are excited, but Bessie became silent as she stood on the threshold between the sunroom and the kitchen.

I honestly don’t know how to draw that moment when all of her dreams and imaginings were coming true right before her eyes. It was all more beautiful than she could have ever imagined. It was her moment, hers and hers alone.

For me, it was just a kitchen, just the room where I prepare food for myself and my chickens. For Bessie, it was a world filled with endless wonder.

Isn’t it strange how something plain, everyday, and totally ordinary to us can be so special to someone else? But it’s that way more times than we may realize.

Bessie wanted to see and do and know everything all at once. We didn’t stop until we were both yawning much too much.

We ended our tour and first tutorial with some words from Julia Child. “What makes a great chef? Well, training and technique, of course, plus a great love of food, a generous personality, and the ability to invent.”

Bessie asked me with such great concern in her voice, almost afraid to hear the answer but willing to risk it, “Do I have those things?”

“Oh, yes, you do. You definitely do,” I said. “We just need to work a little on the training and technique part since this was your first time visiting a real kitchen. Everyone knows what a generous personality you have and how everything you do is done from your heart. What matters more than anything is your generous heart.”

I heard her whispering breathlessly to the others after getting tucked in for the night, “You just won’t believe it. You just will not believe it all.” For me, the endless wonder I felt came from sharing this delightful evening with Bessie.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Bessie) filled me with endless wonder.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! You may want to skip to the next post about Bessie’s dream of being a master chef.

Endless Wonder