My Life With Gracie…A Chicken’s Life Is Not So Bad!

A Chicken’s Life

This post is the conclusion to a short series which began last week. You can begin at the beginning by reading here if you’d like.

“So what do you think about all of the treats you collected?” I asked. “You almost filled your bag, and it was a big bag too.”

They looked at each other, unsure of what to say and who should say it. I waited.

At last, Gracie spoke up and said, “Honestly, we felt really sad, especially for the other kids.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we got corn. But it was hard. Not like what we get at home. And when we tried the little pieces of it, they tasted terrible.”

“Emily had to spit hers out,” added Bessie.

“I see. Was that all?”

“The worms,” said Gracie. “We got plenty of worms, but they were covered with white sand. They were hard and rubbery too. And sour. We don’t like sour worms.”

“They wiggled like real worms when we shook them, but they weren’t real worms,” said Amelia. “They must have been some kind of trick worms for trick-or-treating.”

“We got tricked,” said Bessie. “And that was no fun.”

They all nodded in agreement.

“I would have been disappointed too if I was you. Is there anything else?”

“There was one more thing,” said Amelia. “We didn’t like being called ‘the funny kids with the homemade costumes’ by the other trick-or-treaters.”

“That was not right or fair,” added Bessie.

“Yes, I heard that too. But you were right not to say anything back to them. That might have only made things worse. Their costumes did look like they came from a store. But the stores don’t sell chicken-sized costumes.”

“Why not?” asked Bessie. “Chickens have rights too.”

“I think it might have something to do with the fire code.”

“Oh,” they all said, and nodded knowingly. Chickens do not like fire even though they don’t know what a fire code is. (This answer has helped me out of a good number of tough conversations. Hopefully they will never ask what a fire code is.)

“Why would they make fun of us like that?” asked Emily. Her feelings seem to have been hurt the most. “They were loving all of their treats. They thought everything was really tasty. They were getting exactly what they wanted, but we weren’t. And then they had to make fun of us too.”

“But you did enjoy making your costumes and wearing them. Didn’t you? And you did enjoy doing all of this together. Didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

I leaned in and lowered my voice as if I was about to tell them the biggest secret in the entire universe. “Can I tell you something?”

“Okay,” they whispered back to me.

“In a few years, those kids, even The Big Boy At The End Of The Street, will have forgotten all about their store-bought costumes. They will have forgotten about how tasty all of those treats were for them. But you will still remember how much fun you had making your costumes together and all the times like this that you spent together.”

They thought this over carefully. Chickens do have very good memories.

“What’s more…You have real friends all over the world, and if you had shown up on any one of their front doorsteps, your real friends would have given you the best chicken-loving kind of corn and the best chicken-loving kind of worms you could ever imagine. Even without the scary Halloween costumes. Just because you are you.”

“Really!?!”

“You are my little flock. And that will never change. Even when you go out looking for better treats than what we have right here in our own backyard, you will always have this place and each other. This will always be your home, and this will always be your family.”

They looked around their back yard and at each other. Their eyes brightened.

“What if I take these treats and give them to some kids who might not have been able to go trick-or-treating?” I asked.

“Then we can do a little work together in the yard and garden. I need to do some raking, and I’ll bet there are crickets hiding in the leaves. What do you say?”

“We say we are your flock of chickens, and we would like that very much.”

“So you aren’t ‘the other kids’ any more?”

“We are what we are,” they said with one voice. “And we are very happy with what we are.”

“And next year,” Gracie added, “Maybe our costumes will even let us flap our wings and dance ballet.”

Then because she could not hold it in any longer, Pearl put her foot up in the air and sang out, “Trick Or Treat! Smell My Feet!”

And all was right once again in the world of our little backyard garden.

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

Poll Results for “Scariest Halloween Costume Contest!”

👻 BOTH!!! 👻……33%

👻 “Finger Lickin’ Ghoul” 👻……33%

👻 “Eat More Chikin” 👻……22%

Other……13% “The chicken in the pumpkin” and “Both! AND Pearl in the Pumpkin too! Peek-a-Booo!”

 

My Life With Gracie…The Scariest Halloween Costume Contest

Scariest Halloween Costume Contest

Before I left for work this morning, my chickens showed me how they looked in their Halloween costumes. The neighborhood songbirds had gotten it right when they told them what to do to make the scariest costumes…for chickens.

Even though my chickens did not understand exactly why their costumes were scary, they simply assumed they were the scariest ever, and that was all that mattered to them. There are certain words which I hope they never learn like “nuggets” and “extra crispy,” if you know what I mean. I want them to remain naive and adorably cute for as long as possible.

They also explained all that we will be doing this evening. They have everything planned out for maximum trick-or-treating time.

As soon as I get home this evening, we will announce the winner of our costume contest. (Be sure to vote below.) Then before it gets too late, we will get set up to go trick-or-treating.

I will bring out my gardening wheelbarrow and add some straw in the bottom along with the big pumpkin we have already carved into a Jack-O-Lantern. This will be so Pearl can come along too hidden inside. Don’t worry. She will still be able to look out through the eyes and nose. Because she is molting, she won’t be comfortable wearing a costume, and there is less chance of her getting carried away inside the pumpkin. Pearl can get very carried away when she becomes excited.

Gracie and Emily will hop in with their “Eat Mor Chikin” costume. With Gracie standing on Emily’s back under the ghost shaped sheet, they should sort of look like they really could be a child dressed up for trick-or-treating. Bessie and Amelia will hop in after them with their “Finger Lickin’ Ghoul” costume.

We will add one very large paper bag labeled “Trick Or Treat” for all to share, and then we will be ready to go wheelbarrowing around the neighborhood.

The chickens have been practicing the things they will be saying in English. They want to make sure they sound like little children, not like chickens pretending to be little children. They think this will be the biggest Halloween “trick” of all.

Gracie has warned everyone to stay with the script. No variations allowed. And Pearl has been strictly forbidden from popping out of the pumpkin to say “Trick Or Treat! Smell My Feet.” (If you know Pearl, you know how very likely this is!)

Here is a list of what they have been practicing very carefully to say.

“TRICK OR TREAT!”

“Just corn, please.”

“We are allergic to chocolate.* Worms if you have them, please.”

“No, ma’am, we aren’t in Jennifer’s class. We are homeschooled.”

If they should come to a house that feels particularly welcoming, they are planning to add, “Extra bugs and spiders, if you would be so kind, please.”

If Pearl gets a little restless, they know to say, “Yes, it is strange that there would be feathers sticking out from inside our pumpkin. Thank you for noticing.”

If anyone appears to be fainting because their costumes are so scary, they will be prepared to say, “Would someone please call 911?”

And of course, “BOO!” and “Thank you!”

As you might imagine, I can hardly wait to get home this evening. It should likely be the most memorable trick-or-treating I have ever experienced.

Please  use this poll to vote for a winner of our “Scariest Halloween Costume Contest.” You can vote more than once.

If you don’t see the poll to vote, try this link https://poll.fm/10446166

And as a huge Halloween “Thank You” for humoring an old man and his chickens, here are some free Halloween cards you can download and print out! (Each PDF has two cards. Just print, cut on the solid line, and fold.)

Antique Brown Halloween Cards

Full Color Halloween Cards

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

*Chocolate really can be fatal to chickens, and some other animals too. Watch out for your children and your pets this time of year!

My Life With Gracie…Revealing Reflections

Revealing Reflections

“That really doesn’t look so much like me,” said Emily in her most polite yet most matter-of-fact way.

“How can you be so sure? What I mean is, have you ever seen yourself?”

I had expected her to walk away and simply ponder these questions for a while and then forget all about the newest drawing I had made of her. At most, she might ask me to get a mirror so she really could see herself and maybe make her own self-portrait.

But she didn’t do any of those things. She had a ready answer.

“Yes, I have seen myself,” she said with complete certainty.

“Yes?”

“Yes, I see myself everyday when I look at my reflection in Amelia’s eyes. It happens when we are smiling at each other.”

This was a perfect answer because Amelia is Emily’s best friend. Her words had taken me by surprise and warmed my heart at the same time.

“I understand now. Without a doubt, that really is the best way to see yourself. In the eyes of your best friend. I like that.”

Emily smiled. She often smiles when we teach each other something new. She was definitely the teacher this time.

“If that’s how you see me, then I’m fine with it,” she said. “You did a nice job with the background. I look really well camouflaged, just like in real life.”

She was being so careful to keep my artist’s ego intact.

“Just one thing. Please?”

“Of course.”

“Would you work a little more on drawing iridescence?” she said. Her smile reassured me she was not at all bothered by her portrait.

“I will, Emily. I promise. But you know, I was trying to draw you more grown up. You changed a lot over the summer when you started making drawings for yourself. You’re more confident now, but still such a sweet little lady.”

She smiled again in her most charmingly playful way.

You may ask, and rightly so, how do chickens smile? This is a fair question. Anyone who has ever examined a chicken closely knows their beaks are hard and don’t bend or move the way our mouths do when we smile.

I can only recommend spending time with chickens, and then you will learn to recognize their smiles. This may take lots of time, but that is the way it is with most things of value. Eventually you will begin to recognize their smiles and they will recognize yours.

You will also learn the best way to see an image of yourself is just as Emily had said. Your truest portrait is not found in a drawing or painting or even a photograph. It is found in the reflection you will find in the eyes of someone who has called you their friend. No mirror is needed.

There are many things that someone can call you, but I believe “my friend” may be my most favorite one.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me the best way to see myself.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! The reference to iridescence in today’s post is from our most popular post so far this year titled “True Iridescence.”

The biggest “not like Emily” things in this drawing are the feathers around her eyes. That’s not how face feathers grow on a chicken. But I like how drawing them this way emphasizes Emily’s eyes. She does have the biggest and most wide-open eyes of all my chickens. She sees everything! And although drawn incorrectly, they do echo the fall chrysanthemum blossoms in the background.