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

My Life With Gracie…An Unseen Boundary

An Unseen Boundary

Sometimes maybe we forget how the boundaries and fences we see really can be for our own protection, for our own good. But there are unseen boundaries found in the heart of a different nature.

After Lefty and Rudy left for a farm in Southampton County and The Emperor and The Empress left for a farm in Smithfield, Gracie and Bessie were the only ones outside. But Blanche and Pearl soon outgrew their indoor brooder box and joined them.

Without Lefty or The Emperor to lead the flock, Bessie found her spot. But really there wasn’t much leading to do at first when the only other chicken there was her best friend Gracie. I think Bessie was glad when Blanche and Pearl joined them. She had younger chickens to keep in line, particularly during those awkward, rebellious teenage weeks!

After a little over five months of unemployment, I was hired into a temporary position, and Bessie had a chance to show her leadership skills while I was away. She was so proud when I would tell her, “Okay, Miss Bessie, you’re in charge until I get back.” She took her duties very seriously.

One day when I got home, I knew something was different by the way the chickens were behaving. When I looked closer at Bessie, I could see she had two gash marks on the top of her head, one on each side of her comb.

I asked her what had happened, and she told me the best she could. She even went up into their coop to show me more. She would talk and point with her beak and talk some more and point to a different spot. Then she pointed to the blood spatters on the inside walls of their coop, and I knew how deep her trauma must have been.

She went on and on for the longest time. All I could say was, “I know, Honey, I know.” But I didn’t know what had happened. Only she knew, and I think that unseen boundary hurt me the most…not that I wasn’t there to be the protector, but that she didn’t know how I shared her feelings even though I hadn’t shared her experience. Somehow knowing someone else shares your feelings makes difficult times less difficult.

Having Bessie recount the story of whatever happened the way she did convinced me never to think of any chickens as “just chickens.”

Finally she settled down, and we went on with our evening routine. My best guess is a stray cat found a gap in the fencing between their coop and run, not big enough for either animal to get their bodies through, just a paw or a beak.

Since then the cats started taking different routes, and now all of the chickens go into “high alert” whenever one is in sight. But whatever happened that day changed Bessie. She continued to be the leader for a while, but began holding back more and more until Gracie took over.

My timid little Gracie, with the lump on her side and who I thought would be at the bottom of the pecking order for her entire life, my timid little Gracie became the new leader.

While Gracie will always be “My Best Girl Ever,” Bessie will always be “My Bravest Girl Ever.” I tell her that often because I think she needs to hear it. She is now more retiring and reserved than the others. She fought a brave battle, lived to tell about it, and is glad to now rest and let her best friend be the flock champion.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Bessie) showed me what it means to be a leader.

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

An Unseen Boundary

Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

Each Friday when possible, I’d like to post a photo of Gracie or one of my other chickens…maybe all them! This is so everyone can have a better idea of the inspirations behind the cartoons posted here. (Yes, Gracie is a real chicken, not just a cartoon chicken!)

Hold onto your heart! This week’s photo is of The Emperor during his gangly, awkward “teenage” months. This was soon after the fourteen chickens moved into their first coop. (Only six of them were to be mine since I was raising eight of them for friends.)

The chickens in the background are just sitting and enjoying taking in the world around. There are many song birds and marsh birds in my neighborhood. There is almost always “Bird News” being chattered all around. Perhaps these new backyard residents were the “Headline Story”!

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