Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

One of the things my chickens and I share in common is we all like “corny” things. With them, it’s “corny” corn, the real thing. With me, it’s “corny” jokes. Is there a better time to celebrate “corny” things than Valentine’s Day? I think not! Remember those Valentine’s Day cards children give to each other?!?

You’re “EGGsactly” right for me! Be My Valentine!

You’re a “GOOD EGG”! Won’t you be My Valentine?

It’s no “YOKE,” Valentine—I’ll “EGG” you on ‘til you say you’re mine!

With six of the sweetest hens ever in my backyard, how can I choose just one to be “My Valentine”? They are all so different, even those who are the same breed. Each brings my heart a special unique joy.

But I must admit Gracie has had a special place in my heart from the very beginning. Why is that? Perhaps it is her gentle and peaceful nature. Perhaps it is how she doesn’t mind when others take center stage. (You will notice how she is seldom the main character in these stories.)

Perhaps more than anything it’s because she wants to dance with me, and we both believe one day she will. Even though chickens can’t really dance ballet and even though old men with creaky knees make terrible dancers, we will dance together. We both believe in and look forward to that day…and also to you dancing with us, as “corny” as it may seem!

My Life With Gracie makes my heart “LEAP” and always keeps me “ON MY TOES”!

Happy Valentine's Day!

My Life With Gracie…Lost And Not Afraid

Lost And Not Afraid

“I think I need to travel far away,” she said to me as she sat in my arms, cradled snugly against my chest. “I think I need to go so far away that I’m lost.”

“Why do you want to do that, Amelia?”

“Then I will know if I can be lost and not afraid.”

I didn’t say anything. I just listened.

“Then I need to know if I can find my way back home again to you and the others.”

“Why do you need to know that, Amelia?”

She looked far off into the morning sunrise. “Because if I can make it back, then it means I really do belong here after all, and I will never need to go away ever again.”

“I see.”

“And if I can’t make it back, then that means something else. I don’t know what it will mean, but if it happens like that, then I will know.”

She looked at me to make sure I wasn’t angry or disappointed with her.

“What if I find out I belong somewhere else…even though my heart would be broken to never see you and the others ever again? It could be like that. You know?”

Then she said what troubled her the most. “What if I find I want to come back but can’t?”

“Amelia, you have been thinking about these things for a long time, haven’t you?”

“Yes. Yes, I have.” There was a silence all around us. Then she asked, “What do you think?”

“You should never make a decision out of fear…not a decision to be part of our family here, or a decision to remain, or a decision to go away. Love and fear don’t ever belong together.”

Amelia thought over these words carefully.

“I think you have to do what your heart is telling you to do. Either way, my heart will be broken. But you know that already, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“If you don’t travel far away enough to answer all those questions, you will never be at peace. I don’t think you would be happy not knowing. Your unhappiness would break my heart even though I still had you here with me.”

“And if I traveled far away?”

“My heart would be broken every minute you are away, but I would know you are doing what you have to do, and that would make me happy for you, and so the pain would not be as bad.”

“Would you wait for me to come back?”

“Oh, yes. Without a doubt. I would wait for you and watch for you every day.”

“You realize I might not come back? And that you would be waiting for nothing?”

“No. I wouldn’t be waiting for nothing. You are so much more than nothing. I love you, Amelia. You know I would fly with you if I could, don’t you?”

“Yes. I know that now.”

“Do you need for me to help you pack? Is there anything you want to take with you?”

“No. I don’t really own anything other than myself.”

“Yes, I know. But I thought you might want to carry a little container of sunflower kernels with you. They are small, but they have a lot of energy in them that you might need.”

“Can I decide later? Maybe tomorrow?”

“Yes, of course you can. Take as long as you need.”

I held her closer.

“Would it be alright if I give you a good-bye kiss on the head now? I don’t want to forget later. And you might find that the time to leave is when I’m not here.”

“Yes, I guess that would be okay,” she said.

We both closed our eyes, not wanting the moment to end. “You are so much more than nothing,” I whispered in her ear.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) taught me never to make a decision out of fear…only out of love.

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

Lost And Not Afraid

My Life With Gracie…Every Life

Every Life

This is a visual and thematic companion post to one earlier this week. Together these are about being shelter and giving shelter, two things particularly important for those in need during the harsher winter season.

For the longest time, wrens were my primary backyard birds. It was always enjoyable to sit in my sunroom and watch them looking for food and doing all of the things wrens do.

This was before my chickens moved in with their bigger presence when compared to the little wrens. But they all get along quite well.

The chickens don’t see the wrens as competition for resources, and the wrens don’t see the chickens as big selfish backyard bullies. The wrens, the original “owners” of my backyard, actually enjoy sharing the space because chickens love to scratch the ground for food.

When the chickens get excited with their scratching and digging, they send a lot of smaller bits of grain and seeds in all directions. A good amount will end up outside the run for the wrens to pick up and eat.

Early in the morning, I will sit with my chickens while they are eating their breakfast salad and watch the wrens collecting what the chicken activities from the day before left for them. The wrens seem not to be bothered by my presence now because of the chickens.

The wrens don’t do anything to benefit the chickens or me, at least not anything I can see. Still, we do appreciate the wren songs, and we do enjoy watching their quick little hopping and darting movements from place to place. The backyard would just not feel the same without their joyful presence.

There have been times when wrens have visited inside the chicken run. Perhaps it’s to evade a larger predator or to get a little closer to the chicken’s supply of grain and seeds. But my chickens aren’t territorial about their home. In a way, they are just backyard visitors too.

Chickens don’t mind sharing. (The only real exception is Gracie’s keen interest in getting more than her fair share of pomegranate!) In general though, they are just very good-natured towards other birds, even the ones who are smaller and generally insignificant, at least from their perspective.

To my surprise, there have been times, usually in the cooler fall and spring seasons, when I have opened the chicken coop in the morning, and a little wren has flown out. It’s just a random thing, and I’m unsure if it was intentional or accidental.

My chickens didn’t really care how the wrens came to share their home for the occasional night, they just enjoyed them for who they were.

Maybe they lost their way after their home was destroyed, and it got dark earlier than expected while looking for a new one. Maybe they just needed a safe protected shelter for the night before migrating to new territory. Maybe they simply needed warmth and companionship.

Who cares? What matters is they are there now and they are birds too.

My chickens don’t get anything back from the wrens as far as I can tell, but they aren’t bothered by it. Nor do my chickens strut around as if the wrens should feel indebted to them as the superior and “wealthier” backyard bird.

My chickens seem to understand how they, along with the wrens, are both together my beloved birds.

My Life With Gracie taught me every life matters regardless of how insignificant it may seem.

Maybe there are opportunities “right in your own backyard” to be shelter and give shelter to others. You will, I believe, receive much more back than what you give. I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Every Life