Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

This is probably a “hold onto your heart” photo even though it doesn’t have any cute baby chicks in it. I came across this while considering how to bring some of these posts together into a possible book. This photo is both sad and happy for me, though much more happy than sad. I still miss these two that I raised from hatchlings, but their new home was what was best for them.

In the foreground is Lefty, my big boy who had begun to crow and had to move out to the country. (Roosters aren’t allowed in my city, only no more than six hens.) Then there is Rudy who I had to take to be with him for companionship. (As bold and sure of himself as he was, he got very lonely very quickly! Since then, they have raised many baby chicks of their own.) In the back is Otis, a big gentle dog. He was genuinely glad to have his own chickens to watch over and protect from predators.

Lefty and Rudy were the start of a real farm. Their new family then added more chickens and eventually ducks, quail, pigs, and goats. This week, they have been caring for and bottle-feeding a baby calf who lost her momma.

It’s interesting how things often have a way of turning out for the best all by themselves. Lefty is finally the real “cock-a-doodle-doing” farm rooster he was hatched to be!

If you’re thinking of starting a farm, just get a big gentle farm dog like Otis and a spirited rooster like Lefty. The rest just might fall into place!

Pearl’s Life Coaching Flowchart #2

Pearl's Life Coaching Flowchart #2

With spring slowly coming to our part of the world and daffodils blooming in our little backyard garden, Pearl thought it might be good to offer a little help with answering one of life’s most challenging questions: “How can I have more joy in my life?” So she has prepared her second flowchart as a “Life Coach.” (You can read her first flowchart here if you’d like.)

It’s also a great opportunity to wear her new Daffodil hat. If you don’t have a Daffodil hat of your own, you may consider making one. If Pearl can do it, so can you!

Please keep in mind this is all from Pearl’s unique chicken perspective. Whether or not this carries over to a human perspective is something you can decide for yourself.

Special Note: Pearl is planning to have “Ode To Joy” from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony playing in the background when she delivers this message at our local university.

Let’s get started. Go Beethoven! Go Pearl! (She will be using Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” as her flowchart test item.)

“Can you eat it?”

Since Pearl is a chicken, and eating is something chickens and people both have in common, this seems to be a good place to start.

You’ll notice Pearl doesn’t ask whether it tastes good or not. There are very few things a chicken won’t eat, and what they won’t eat, there’s almost always another animal that will eat it. (You would be amazed at the number of things chickens will not eat but which people will eat!)

Pearl’s Bottom Line: Things you can eat are definitely a reason to jump for joy!

You cannot eat a song like Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy.” Well, I guess you could eat the sheet music if you were truly desperate. But you can eat something else while listening to Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy.” To be fair, we should count that as a “No.”

“Will you be able to eat it later?”

This is more important than you might think. Just because you can’t eat something today, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to eat it tomorrow. Never forget shoelaces can turn into earthworms!

Often things just need a little time to get soft and mushy and ripe. For example, a hard green tomato will turn into a soft red ripe tomato if you give it some time.

So if your answer is “Yes,” you have a reason to jump for joy. Even if you can only give it a “Maybe,” don’t despair. There’s always tomorrow.

Pearl’s Bottom Line: Everything deserves another chance to become food for chickens.

Nevertheless, you cannot eat Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” or the sheet music no matter how many times you say “Maybe” and wait. Looks like another “No.”

“Can it eat you?”

Now we are getting to the flip side of this whole eating thing. Just because you can’t eat it, doesn’t mean it can’t eat you!

So if it can’t eat you, that’s definitely a reason to jump for joy even if you can’t eat it. If it can eat you, proceed with caution!

Pearl’s Bottom Line: If you can’t eat it, and it can’t eat you, then you are safe even though everybody’s stomach might be grumbling. Jump for joy just a little, and then go find something to eat!

Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” cannot eat you…unless it is being played on an accordion by a very gifted bear. If that is the case, continue on with “Yes.”

“Has it eaten you yet?”

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve got reason to celebrate! You haven’t become someone’s dinner! Jump for joy…and then run!

Pearl’s Bottom Line: Just look around, and you’ll probably find more reasons to jump for joy than you can count! Pearl’s own “Ode To Joy” has triumphed in the end!

My Life With Gracie…The Evil King Of Darkest Night

The Evil King Of Darkest Night

This is the next in a series about Gracie’s dream of one day being a ballerina. It follows this portion of the story which introduces the field mice and this portion of the story which introduced The Evil King and Air Shadows without showing how they look.

A gray rainy and overcast day seemed perfect to continue working out the story of our ballet about The Rose Garden Princess. I began by reassuring timid little Emily if there happened to be a real-life Evil King, we would be able to smell him before he got anywhere near us. Nothing smells worse than a wet rat or opossum or raccoon or any other type of predator you can imagine!

(Everyone raised their beaks into the air as high as they could and sniffed.)

All seemed safe and so we entered Gracie’s dream again.

“I smell chickens!” bellowed the Evil King Of Darkest Night. “Smelly filthy nasty dirty chickens!”

He sniffed and wiggled his nose in all directions to pick up the smell of The Garden Princesses.

(Gracie and all of the others hunkered down with barely their beaks peaking out from their feathery pile.)

“Do we really smell that bad?” asked Emily who is always concerned about being as perfect a lady as possible.

“No, absolutely not. You smell wonderfully sweet,” I reassured her. “But sometimes evil characters say things to make you doubt yourself so they can take advantage of you.”

(Everyone nodded in agreement.)

“I will find you miserable chickens!” he screeched. “And when I do I will carry you away with me. You will lay eggs for me until you can’t lay any more eggs, and then I’m going to eat you! I will eat every last one of you! The last sound the last of you will ever hear will be the crunching of the bones of the others who have been gobbled up first!”

(Everyone muttered, “That awful beast! Chicken thief! Murderer!” But no one said it very loudly. After all, there really might be an Evil King Of Darkest Night.)

As he slowly moved through the Great Garden, all of the flowers that the Garden Princesses loved began to wither and turn to ashes. The Air Shadows swirled around The Evil King Of Darkness faster and faster as each carefully tended collection of beauty was destroyed.

(All of my chickens were silent. They did not know what to say.)

Finally Amelia spoke up. “You’re going to tell us he made it to the center of The Great Garden, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“And that he captured The Garden Princesses,” added Emily.

“Yes.”

“Will The Rose Garden Princess and the other Princesses dance in this part of the ballet?” asked Gracie. I could tell she was working out the choreography and costuming in her creative mind.

“I’m not sure. What do you think?”

“I think for this part the audience needs to stop and really think about what the world would be like if there was no beauty and no joy,” she said.

The others began to imagine it too, and I could tell they were more afraid of that kind of existence than they were of The Evil King Of Darkest Night.

Gracie continued, “Even if we had The Garden Princesses dancing as prisoners in this part, there would still be something pretty on the stage. We need the audience to think and think again of a world where there is no hope and no love.”

I considered what she was saying and then realized how right she was. “I understand exactly what you mean, Gracie. Beauty will always be beautiful even if held prisoner, even if sick and dying, even if crippled and unable to dance.

”There is something beautiful in the light of life itself.

“We really could have a world with no beauty or joy, with no hope or love. But if we don’t stop to think about how a world like that can creep up on us bit by bit, then it will be too late.”

“Air Shadows!” they all exclaimed at once.

“Yes!” I said in surprise. “It’s the things we can’t see which can take away beauty, joy, hope, and love that are truly scary. When those are gone and only shadows and memories remain, that is even scarier.”

I looked at each of them one by one and then said, “I can’t imagine my little backyard garden without the six of you and the beauty you bring into my life. Sleep well, my little princesses.”

And so I went back inside and drew a picture of a world without chickens to illustrate this part of their ballet about The Rose Garden Princess. It was not easy to draw. I wanted to include at least a hint of tail-feathers rushing away and off of the stage. But, no.

It made me sad to imagine a world with no beauty anywhere, not even the memory of beauty and love. There is something beautiful even in just their remembrances which are held like a treasure and locked away in our minds.

Without even those memories, what kind of existence would that be? It would be like falling into an endless black hole of fear and hopelessness. That is the scariest of all.

My Life With Gracie made me aware of how the world is not always a loving place.

The Evil King Of Darkest Night