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…A Season For Hands

A Season For Hands

This illustration is based on a previous “My Life With Gracie” drawing which has a blank neutral background. Each gives a different perspective.

Chickens love to be up high, and it is still a bit of a thrill for me to see one of them fly up to a perch above the others. Everyone has their favorite spot for perching. Bessie’s is my chair!

This love of heights all started when they are actually just chicks. They want to be on top of something, anything really, and look down. They feel safe. They feel accomplished. The entire world is just a hop and a flap away…or so they believe!

Children are like that too, at least at first, believing anything is possible for them.

But there are some cold hard realities in our world. For some, “anything is possible” becomes “something is possible” becomes “nothing is possible.”

Inside each homeless person you see on the street, inside each of us actually, is a child who at one time wanted so much to believe anything was possible for them.

Perhaps what scares us about someone less fortunate is we don’t want to face the possibility we could have been born as them. Maybe that is why we keep our distance, push them away, or don’t help when we could.

Unlike people, chickens don’t have the ability to help each other to do much of anything. Without hands, they can’t nudge or push or lift up each other. They only have wings to flap.

As baby chicks, Bessie was more advanced than Gracie. Bessie wanted to help, but all she was able to do was flap her wings and “peep” encouragement until her hatch-mate reached their new higher perch. She would hop and flap up, hop down. Hop and flap up, hop down. All the time peeping as if to say, “Do this! Just do this!”

If that didn’t work, she would try again later, and again and again if needed, until they were able to sit and admire the view from their higher perch together, side-by-side as friends. Bessie did the best she could without any hands to help Gracie who was much more timid and afraid. This was because of her hatching defects which made thing like this difficult.

Bessie never abandoned Gracie. I do believe she would have given up the wings she loves so much for a pair of hands if she could have used them to help Gracie get up to the highest possible perch alongside her.

Chicken world is not people world. But too often people world is not what people world could be and should be.

We can just stand on the sidelines “flapping and peeping” by offering only thoughts, prayers, and encouraging words…or we can instead use our hands, even if they get a little dirty and calloused, to help lift up someone who struggles to be where we are.

Regardless of our faith traditions, we can make a difference during this season of holidays.

My Life With Gracie made me appreciate being able to use my hands to lift up others.

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

A Season For Hands