“The Scoop From The Coop!” April 2020

The Scoop From The Coop!

Here’s what has been happening lately. It’s what you might call “The Scoop From The Coop!”

WordPress Reading And Posting. I am sorry for not keeping up with my reading and posting here on WordPress, particularly my reading. Right now, work is often hectic with the Covid-19 pandemic that is happening.

I genuinely do feel sad about not being able to keep up with my reading here because I’m missing out on some really great posts from all of you! Hopefully things will get back to normal soon. In the meantime, I will make a point of catching up with your posts as best as I am able.

All My Chickens. Everyone is doing well here. We have been able to get enough organic vegetables from the local grocery stores. As far as the chickens know, life continues as normal, and that’s the way I want it to be for them.

I did have a bit of a scare last week because Gracie was not herself. She was having trouble with her left foot. At first I thought it was something called “bumblefoot” which chickens get and can die from. When I examined her more closely, I found blue-green bruising on the top her left foot. (This is an odd color and at first I thought it was a fungus or something similar. But I guess chickens bruise a little differently from people!)

I didn’t ask her how it happened. I have a feeling she was jumping down from somewhere and didn’t land the way she expected. It may also have been a ballet-related injury. It is still too early to know if she will be able to dance again. As with all things, if she must hang up her ballet slippers forever, she will take that news gracefully.

On the very positive side, yesterday evening, she was able to make it up the chicken ladder and to her favorite sleeping perch without my help and when I wasn’t looking too! So we are very hopeful.

Most important of all: Stay healthy and be safe! Thank you so much for reading and being a part of this creative journey with us.

Your friends,

John, Gracie, Bessie, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia

 

 

My Life With Gracie…A Tea Party With Splat And Tumble

A Tea Party For Splat And Tumble

This is a continuation of last Saturday’s story and illustrations. You can read it here if you’d like.

“So which one of the snowchicks we made for you was your favorite?” asked Gracie.

We were enjoying a warmer and more comfortable afternoon in the winter sun.

“They were all special in their own way.”

“Yes, but that’s not what I asked.”

“Well, it’s hard to say. Especially if each of you girls made a different one. You know I don’t like to pick favorites between you.”

“How about this then. Which two were your favorites? Imagine we were having an afternoon tea party. Which two would you invite? Bessie and I have always wanted to have a tea party anyway.”

“Gracie, you know you shouldn’t have a tea party for snowchicks. They would melt.”

“You are evading my question again.”

“To be honest, picking two is much easier. It would be the two I named Splat and Tumble.”

“I knew you would pick them!” she said, looking pleased at how well she knew me. “But tell me why.”

“Splat reminded me of when you were all little baby chicks and would play until you would ‘splat’ yourselves. At least that’s what I called it.”

“At first you thought we were weak and sick when really we were just exhausted from trying to explore everything in the world all at once.”

“Yes, all of you, and especially Bessie, would run and run until you couldn’t run any more and had to take a nap. Sometimes you would go ‘splat’ while you were still running to discover something that had caught your attention. The first time, I thought you were all having sun strokes or something.”

My face flushed slightly as I remembered not knowing hardly anything about raising chickens back then.

“Oh, don’t be embarrassed,” she said. “You didn’t know any more about baby chicks than we knew about the world we had hatched into. We all learned it together.”

I had to chuckle at my own lack of knowledge. “Yes, I thought there was something wrong with all of you and I wanted to take you back for a refund!”

“I am so glad you didn’t.”

“Me too, Gracie. Me too.”

“And what about the one you named Tumble?”

“That one reminded me of all the times Bessie tried to coach you to fly up to the next higher roosting spot.”

“And I took a tumble time and time again.”

“Yes, but that never stopped you from trying, did it? And that never stopped Bessie from helping you either. She never gave up on you, and you never gave up on yourself.”

Gracie looked over at Bessie who was scratching and digging in a corner with earthworm potential. I watched Gracie’s body relax as she thought back to those long ago days.

Gracie had been the most timid of all the chicks. She had that lump on her side almost from the time she hatched, and she shielded it and herself from the others for safety. She only trusted Bessie. I remember how I had promised them both I would keep them together no matter what. I have broken many promises in my life, but my promise to them is one I must never break.

Gracie turned back and looked into my eyes.

“I know you have had your own splats and tumbles. Even though you have never told me about them, I know you have had them. I have seen them on your face.”

I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. I just listened.

Gracie looked more deeply into my eyes, never blinking.

“But I have also seen how you have a piece of Forever in your heart.”

Gracie turned, leaving me to think about what she had said. Sometimes the simplest words hold the deepest meaning.

She went over to where Bessie was resting after her digging adventure. She lay down beside her and then nudged her head under Bessie’s. In a moment, Bessie was resting her head on the soft comfort of Gracie’s neck and back. It was just like how they had done so often as little chicks when their lives were filled with countless splats and tumbles.

Surely they have a piece of Forever in their hearts as well.

And perhaps, when it snows again, Gracie and Bessie can have their tea party with Splat and Tumble, only we will make it an iced tea party instead.

My Life With Gracie taught me sometimes life gives us splats and tumbles. Both simply mean we are alive and growing with a precious piece of Forever in our hearts.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! May you find a piece of Forever in your own heart.

Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp (Part 4)

Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp

Summer Drawing Camp has definitely been good for Emily. Her artwork has helped her to be more self-confident as the goodness in her heart is expressed on paper right before her eyes. Her creation today fills in many details not found in the words as all good illustrations do.

It had been another week of evening thunderstorms with rain into the night. In the mornings, none of the chickens were particularly eager to do much of anything.

They wanted me to open the coop and let them out so they could check the weather and see what was for breakfast. But after their initial curiosity was satisfied, they were unsure just what to do. They might nibble a little here and there, but that was about it. Aimlessness is never good.

I missed those days when they could not wait to get down the ladder from their coop in order to greet their new day. Just seeing them hurrying down to examine everything in detail always makes me feel that anything is possible.

And that is how chickens look at the world most days.

“Today may be the day I will find the biggest earthworm in the entire world! It may take all of my strength to wrestle it out of the ground, but I will do it!”

But it wasn’t like that now.

A damp and humid melancholy seemed to cover us all. We longed for a spring-time breeze to freshen the air, perhaps one filled with the fragrance of daffodils and lilac blossoms.

If only the sweet osmanthus would bloom, it would quickly turn everything around with the clean and invigorating smell of its many tiny blossoms. It’s planted there by the path to our backdoor because I want to smell it to know for sure that I am home, the only home my chickens and I will ever share together.

“Emily, will you make a picture of our house and garden? Would you do that for me?”

“I would be glad to.”

“It has to be a special picture, please. Can you make it so that all of the flowers all over the yard are blooming all at the same time? Even though they don’t really?”

“I will need to do a lot of remembering for that.”

“Yes, that’s the point, I think. I want to remember and imagine and see it all at once. Even though life doesn’t work that way.”

“I will do my best.”

“I know you will. You always do.”

I thought back to how Emily had asked me if we could plant enough flowers in our garden so Amelia could look down from the moon and know which house was ours. Maybe I wanted to see all of the flowers blooming all at the same time because I missed Amelia so much.

Somehow Emily knew this. “She misses us too, and especially you.”

“How do you know?”

“Because we are practically like sisters even though we are different kinds of chickens. And I know I would miss you. We need a flag.”

“What do you mean?”

“A flag. A bright red flag to hang from a pole on the chimney. You can make it from the same red yarn that you used to secure Amelia’s travel bag. We need a flag.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“She will be able to see the flag from the moon. She will recognize the color. She will remember it from her travel bag. Even if no flowers are blooming, she will be able to tell which house is ours. Then maybe she will realize she misses us too and come home. We need a flag.”

“Now I see what you mean.”

“This is her home whether she realizes it or not.”

“That isn’t just wishful thinking, is it? Are you sure you aren’t trying to push what your heart wants onto her heart?”

“I don’t know how I know, but I know.”

“If I make a flag from the red yarn, I will have to learn how to knit.”

“If I can learn to draw and paint, you can learn to knit. We need a flag.”

“You can be quite persistent, Emily. You don’t give up, do you?”

“I know. But I am also persistent about who I love too. Love never gives up.”

So Emily and I both started our projects. Hers was to remember the past and imagine. Mine was to look towards the future and imagine. Both would represent home and the persistence of love.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me love is persistent. Love never gives up. Love always has a “Plan B.”

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!