My Life With Gracie…Bessie’s Self-Portrait

Bessie's Self-Portrait

This post is next in a sequence which began with a previous post about Bessie that you may want to read as well.

For some of you, it may be a stretch to believe chickens really can dance ballet. Then you realize dancing is nothing more than making movements to music, and it seems quite possible. Even so, it may be more difficult to believe chickens really can prepare delicious recipes in the kitchen…or draw recipe pictures afterwards.

Remember though, love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable.

This is why it was a real treat to watch Bessie and Gracie working together on their recipe drawing. You may remember Bessie wanted her recipes to have drawings anyone, even a child, could follow.

They worked very well together on this project. As an observer of the baking adventure, Gracie was able to divide everything into the “big parts,” and then as a chef, Bessie was able to add the details or the “little parts.”

Even Pearl, who is usually very rambunctious, watched with calm curiosity by Bessie’s side, not wanting “steal the show” as she so often is inclined to do. Yes, love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable!

They used the stiff gray cardboard from the back of an old sketch pad of mine and an assortment of leftover stubby pencils. The cardboard held up much better than paper would have, and the shorter pencils where easier to hold in their beaks.

They outlined, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. They made different sizes of specks for shading, sometimes big, sometimes small. (Chickens love specks. Even as little chicks, they will peck at any speck they find.) They did quite well for two chickens who had never drawn before, and they also never asked for an eraser.

My favorite part was the self-portrait Bessie drew. It showed how she used her feet to spread out her first bowl of ingredients into the pan. (Bessie did want me to let everyone know if they don’t have a chicken at home to help with this step, people can probably use their fingers, but it may not be as fun.)

It wasn’t my favorite part because of that though. It was my favorite part of the whole drawing because she drew herself happy, and I was so glad to know that was how she felt.

Often I worry about my chickens and whether they are happy or not. I wonder if they have a good enough life and if they have any regrets. I want them to have a life worth living. It’s just what all of us should have.

It was interesting how she drew her comb like Gracie’s comb with everything pointing upward. You see, that is not the way her comb looks. The back half of it is crooked and flops over from where she defended everyone against a predator. It happened one day when I was away at work. I have written about it before. It was when I learned to never to think of any chickens as “just chickens.”

Her comb never stood upright completely any more afterwards because of the way her head was attacked. Bessie will always be my bravest girl ever, but she has never been quite the same after that day. Though sometimes I do get glimpses of her the way she used to be….like when she was cooking…or drawing herself cooking.

Neither Gracie nor I said anything about the drawing of her comb not being exactly correct. I guess it’s just that way when you love someone.

Bessie let me add a few embellishments to her recipe drawing with crayons and watercolors.

I didn’t think she would because she had been so insistent about how she would be the one to do the recipe drawings. But I guess it’s just that way when someone loves you back.

My Life With Gracie let me see how love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Watch for Bessie’s illustrated recipe later this week and just in time for your own holiday baking adventure!

Bessie's Self-Portrait

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