My Life With Gracie…An Uncomfortable Truth

An Uncomfortable Truth

It had to come out sometime, but I still always kept the hope of never having to discuss it. Bessie was the first to find out. She was flabbergasted. People eat chicken eggs.

The topic came up after I helped Bessie put on the master chef’s hat and apron I had made for her. We were discussing how she wanted to help people learn to cook things like roasted pumpkin seeds for their chickens.

Then we started talking about corn which chickens also like, and I shared how people enjoy corn and cornbread. Bessie had never had cornbread, only corn. So she asked what was in cornbread.

Cornmeal. Wheat flour. A little sugar because we are in the south. Baking powder. Butter and buttermilk from cows. (We did have to take a side trip to discuss cows because by not being on a farm, none of them had ever seen a cow.) And, of course, eggs.

The word was out of my mouth before I had a chance to think. Eggs.

After a very long explanation, Bessie found peace with the uncomfortable truth of people (including me, their own Chicken Daddy) eating eggs. I will never forget her still-baffled voice when she said, “And all along, we thought you were just tidying up the nesting boxes!”

It did help to let her know without Lefty or The Emperor around, their eggs would never have real chicks inside to hatch. It also helped letting her know the people who received their eggs were truly grateful for all of their hard work and dedication. Everyone, absolutely everyone, said their eggs were superior in every way.

“This changes everything,” she said as she turned and walked away. “I’d better let the others know.”

After the longest time, she came back and began to set down certain rules while standing on my foot to make sure I had her full attention.

“If people are going to eat our eggs, then they’d better serve them on the best possible plates they’ve got in the house. No exceptions.”

So I brought out one of my Blue Willow plates for approval by all six chickens. I explained it was one my grandparents had owned and how I had eaten off it since I was a little boy. They were my favorite and most treasured plates.

Blue Willow Plate

Their unanimous decision was these plates would be suitable, particularly since they had two young chickens flying in the air. (Yes, I know these are actually not supposed to be chickens, and I know chickens can’t fly that way. But sometimes it’s not always wise to share too many uncomfortable truths in a single day.)

“If people are going to eat our eggs, then they’d better know how to cook them properly. No sloppy cooking.”

I reassured Bessie we would test every single one of her recipes until it was perfect in every possible way. I did let her know it might be wise to not completely guarantee success because not everyone would be able to use eggs produced by her and the others. We had mutual agreement about how less than superior eggs could produce less than superior results.

Then Bessie began to tell more about what she wanted to do as a master chef and the kinds of recipes she would like to share. She had originally wanted only recipes like roasted pumpkin seeds for people to make for their chickens, but now she also wanted recipes for people to make for themselves.

Her ideas were expansive and so very beautiful, designed to honor their eggs and all they did to produce them. She even wanted to create recipes that could be made for both chickens and people. I was amazed at her graciousness so soon after discovering what happens with eggs.

“One more rule. If people are going to eat our eggs, then there have to be pictures with the recipes, and I’m going to draw them so anybody, even a child, can follow my recipes.”

My eagerness to discover what would come next grew, but Bessie would say no more. She had clearly taken control over anything food-related and now drawing-related too!

All I could think to say was, “Yes, Chef.” And we both smiled.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Bessie) expanded my heart to new and unexpected possibilities.

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

An Uncomfortable Truth

My Life With Gracie…Gleaning Wisdom

Gleaning Wisdom

This illustration is based on my fourth “My Life With Gracie” drawing. It is still one of my favorites because it is the first one of Gracie dancing. You can see this illustration has a lot more happening!

Pomegranate seeds are a treat my chickens enjoy in autumn. These are never passed up, and that is what made me wonder if there was something wrong.

For a few weeks, I’ve noticed leftover corn kernels or fruit pieces in their run at the end of the day when I went to secure them in their coop for the night. I had just assumed they were given too much, more than they could eat. But the leftovers were gone in the morning.

This was a bit of a mystery, but I really didn’t give it much thought until the leftovers included some of their prized pomegranate seeds. What was going on?

So as I was making sure everyone was snugly in their coop for the night, I questioned Gracie about this. At first she seemed a bit embarrassed as they all looked at each other, unsure what to say.

Finally Gracie explained it had been her idea for them to leave food behind for the field mice who visit them at night. With all of the rain we have had, it was more difficult for them to gather food for themselves and their little ones.

So I quickly told them not to worry because they had been doing a wonderful kindness.

All looked quite relieved, and moved a bit closer to me when I said, “You know, that sounds like something The Rose Garden Princess would do.”

And just like that, we were all wrapped up in Gracie’s dream.

(For those of you who are new readers, Gracie wants to be a ballerina more than just about anything, and “The Rose Garden Princess” is a ballet project we are creating for her.)

Yes, kindness to strangers and wanderers is an ancient tradition of the Princesses who live in The Great Garden. (Feather’s rustled happily because they all could be princesses for the ballet.)

“Remember when you had no home of your own” is ancient chicken wisdom once heard long ago and passed down from momma hens to chicks. (Suddenly there were disappointed expressions on every face. But why? Then I realized they remembered never having a momma hen to teach them anything.)

I paused the story to let them know how proud I was of them for knowing this on their own without the guidance of a momma hen. They were all truly wise chickens indeed. (Everyone smiled and sat a bit taller. They were definitely feeling their parts in the ballet.)

And so one autumn evening the hungry field mice scampered into The Great Garden and began to jump and run about, grabbing scraps of food that the Princesses had not eaten. The Princesses were startled and became frantic because their peaceful garden home was being overrun by mice. (Together they pretended to be surprised in the most adorable way.)

Although much smaller, the field mice moved much faster and could hide in the tiniest and most unexpected places. More than either of those things, they were scary because they were different. They didn’t have beaks and wings. Instead they had sharp teeth and grabbing hands! (Serious shivers spread from one chicken to another, and Emily hid her head under her wing. Pearl hid her head under Blanche’s wing.)

But do you know what The Rose Garden Princess did? (Everyone leaned forward to hear better. Gracie moved closest of all, even though she started to feel a draft where her fluff feathers had molted.)

The Rose Garden Princess made promises with the field mice. They could come each evening to collect food left for them. In return the field mice would use their teeth to cut flowers from the garden and hold them as banners when The Rose Garden Princess and the other Princesses danced in the moonlight. (Joyful wings applauded along the perch at this delightful turn of events!)

Although it took a great deal of practice, what a grand and amazing dance it was! Some of the smallest field mice entered first, scampering and leaping in unison. They were joined by more field mice who carried flowers like banners. Then the Princesses began to dance onto the stage.

It all made for a great and dramatic spectacle, unfolding in The Great Garden as more and more mice and more and more Princesses joined in the procession. Mice carrying daisies, and then the Daisy Princesses. Mice carrying daffodils, and then the Daffodil Princesses. On and on it went, and each seemed more beautiful than the last.

Finally when everyone was certain there was no way for the dance to be any more breathtaking, The Rose Garden Princess appeared! (My chickens could not hold back their enthusiasm any longer. The sounds of their delight filled my little backyard garden.)

We all said “good night,” and they huddled closer together for warmth. It was going to be a chilly night, but not in our hearts.

There were a few still-excited whispers about who would dance as Daisy Princesses and who would dance as Daffodil Princesses and so on. Everyone was unanimous only Gracie could be The Rose Garden Princess as she had already led them in showing unselfish kindness towards others.

My Life With Gracie taught me always to have a generous and welcoming heart.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Right now I am revisiting some of my earlier cartoon illustrations and giving them a different twist.

Gleaning Wisdom

My Life With Gracie…Our Greatest Joy

Our Greatest Joy

Saturday’s special post will be all about Pearl’s comedy debut. Just remember with chicken humor, you either get it or you don’t! But I hope you do!

While setting up “Pearl’s Comedy Coop” in my backyard, I realized Gracie and I have spent a great deal of time together turning the dreams of others into realities. Pearl, the stand-up comedian. Amelia, the first chicken to fly to the moon and back. Bessie, the master chef. (We still have work to do there!)

Yet as much as Gracie wants to be a ballerina, we hardly ever spend time working on turning her own dream into a reality. She never complains. She never feels abandoned. Her heart never turns hard with jealousy towards the others.

Whenever I’ve tried to make my life all about me, the effort leaves me feeling disappointed and frustrated. There seem to be some people who can make everything all about themselves and do it quite well. But that’s not me, and that’s not my Gracie.

Maybe for us, our greatest dream is to make the dreams of others come true. Perhaps to gain your dreams, you must lose them in a greater dream.

My Life With Gracie reminded me there is something special about finding my greatest joy in the joy of others.

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

Our Greatest Joy