My Life With Gracie…The Kindness Of Giving Rest

Giving Rest

This recent summer hot spell has been rough, perhaps the longest and roughest my chickens have ever known. I have had to take extra steps to help make them comfortable.

I have run electric cords out into the backyard to power several low-noise fans. I’ve also used cooling block pans which have helped even more. (These are shallow pans with a concrete paver block that has been soaked in water. The pavers sit just above the water level so that when the chickens stand on them, they get an evaporative cooling effect.)

Even though I move their fan to give them a breeze through the big wire door to their coop at night, it is often just moving still-hot air. It’s not always easy for them to get a good night’s sleep. Instead they take a series of short naps at night and more naps during the day, often after taking a dustbath in the cool earth.

Gracie is different though. When I get home from work, she often has one or two of the others nearby in the dustbath they have dug in front of the fan. They will be peacefully taking a long deep sleep while she is keeping watch over them.

Emily depends on her the most. Perhaps it is because she is the smallest and feels the most vulnerable. Perhaps it is because they share a kinship of the heart even though they are completely different kinds of chickens on the outside.

Gracie doesn’t close her eyes to nap until Emily gets up from resting beside her. You can tell she wants to sleep some herself, but she won’t leave Emily unprotected even though they are secure in their run.

When I get home, I will sit in my chair under the camellias as quietly as I can so I don’t wake anyone up from a nap. Often I want to give Gracie some comforting words and to thank her for being such a good leader, but I don’t want even my softest voice to wake up Emily who is by her side. Gracie understands this as I silently mouth, “Thank you, Gracie.”

She knows I will be there for a while when I start reading a book which I almost always bring outside with me. When she sees me starting to read, then she slowly closes her eyes too. She passes the role of protector of the flock to me, and then she can rest as well.

It may be wrong and foolish of me to believe that Gracie holds In her heart all of the goodness that a chicken’s heart can possibly hold, but those words overflow from my own heart. I must say them, right or wrong.

There are no predators that could get in and hurt them, but still Emily needs the comfort of knowing Gracie is watching over her. Gracie with all of the goodness in her heart can not let Emily down.

My Life With Gracie opened my heart to see the kindness of giving rest.

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

Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

Today’s photo is one taken a few weeks before Blanche died. It isn’t the best photo because of the fencing that is in the way, but it was one of those moments when you have to snap the image because you know it might change in an instant. The early spring sun had just been covered by some passing clouds, so the photo doesn’t show how brilliantly white their feathers are in the sunlight.

What I like about this photo is how Pearl is standing with her breast out as she is watching over Pearl while she was sick. Even though this photo doesn’t show how beautiful and brilliantly white their feathers are on the outside, it does show how extraordinarily beautiful Pearl’s heart is on the inside.

Every day Pearl would watch over Blanche, just as she is doing here. While Blanche ate, Pearl held back and let her have her first choice. Pearl wouldn’t eat until she knew Blanche had eaten all she wanted. If Blanche felt up to pecking around a little, Pearl would too, but would still pause often to look out for any danger that might sneak up on them. While Blanche rested in the warmth of a sunny corner, Pearl kept guard so she could sleep peacefully.

Pearl, with all of her goofiness, has always had the most incredible loving heart. Yes, calamities and mishaps always seem to happen wherever she goes…overturned water bottles, spilled food dishes…even stepping on someone else who is sound asleep. That’s Pearl. But this is also Pearl too.

Beginning tomorrow, the next several stories and illustration posts will be about Pearl and how she has coped with the loss of her life-long companion and best friend ever, Blanche.

In these new story posts, I’ve drawn Pearl as a young chick without her comb and wattles. When I was sharing about Blanche and Pearl during their tough times together earlier this year, I drew just Pearl as a young chick or both Blanche and Pearl as grown hens. Then when Blanche died, I drew Pearl as a young chick again.

Since those weren’t conscious decisions at the time, what do those differences mean? I think perhaps drawing Pearl as a young chick at certain times may indicate something about her feelings. When we are little children, we feel vulnerable and not in control of what is happening. We can feel that way as adults too.

I hope you will benefit from the upcoming posts since loss and grief are things which happen in every life.

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