Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lessons from the Chickens

Last night as it neared dusk the chickens started their roosting process.  Two would hop in and settle down and then one would hop back down.  It was a back and forth shuffle until everyone was in the coop except one of the hens.  She was spending every last minute she could eating before retiring for the night.  Finally she wanted to roost as well.  She rounded the coop and the door was open.  She ended up behind the door so she turned around and went the other direction around the coop.  My husband was standing on that side of the chicken run and when she saw him she turned directions again coming back to the other side.  She did this at least seven times.  Each time defeated in her efforts to find the opening in the coop so she could join the others.  She clucked softly as she went back and forth.  But the surprising part was the rooster.  He began clucking loudly as though he were calling her into the safety of the coop.  As my husband moved back, she hopped onto the feeder and got a better view of  things.  The next time she rounded the coop she went in.  Mister Rooster immediately stopped clucking and the whole coop grew silent.

Another of our little hens has an injured leg and she limps.  All of the other hens, but especially Miss Plymouth Rock, spend a lot of her time purposefully attacking Little Miss Rhode Island Red.  They chase her away from treats and peck her whenever they get the opportunity.  Miss Rhode Island often freezes  when the other hens are near her.  I think she is trying to become invisible so that they don't peck at her.  Sometimes she dodges the others like she is in a game of tag.  It makes us sad to see her picked on but understand that is the way of chickens to have a pecking order.

There is lots to be learned from nature.  I believe God has woven truth into our world if we will take time to be still and comprehend the lessons.   I would rather be someone who encourages others to find the right path and to get to a place of comfort and safety than someone who pecks the broken and the injured.  Truth be told, I have done a little of both but I would like the roosters actions to characterize who I am.

But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another.
... encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, be patient toward all.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Camping in the Rain

The work week was over and our church family had planned the yearly camping trip to Jocasse.  It doesn't matter whether the weekend is in September or in June, it normally rains.  No, rain is the wrong word.  It normally is a belly gusher.  In years past we have packed it out in the middle of the night because our tent was leaking so badly.  But still we keep on planning trips and signing up to go.
This year we were on campsite 12  by the water with our son and daughter in law.  They went up on Friday night and our plans were to join them on Saturday morning.  I spent Friday evening making food.  Saturday morning my husband and I loaded the car with the tent, cooler, tarp, backpacks and stopped at the store to pick up steaks to grill that evening.

As we got closer to Jocasse errant drops of rain splattered on the windshield.  No matter, it was just a few drops.  As we pulled into the ranger station to pick up our parking tag, there was a steady drizzle.  Surely it would stop and the clouds would blow away.  We hauled all of our things into the "walk in" camping area.  After being there less than 45 minutes the bottom fell out.  We unfolded the tarp and draped it over our belongings that were perched on  the picnic table.  I sat under the tarp with my son eating chicken  enchilada soup that we had warmed over Jon and Sarah's camp fire that was near us.

  As the rain and torrential rivulets of water made there final way to the lake, we surveyed the damage.  Our son and daughter in law had a soaked tent floor.  The rain had flooded into the tent because the packed tent sand pad was blocked by debris.  Josh's arms were covered in poison ivy and Rachel had a ton of school work to do, so they decided  all in all that it was better to go home  than take the chance that the bedding would dry out before night fall.

So here we were disappointed that they had left; we were still unpacked in a wet campsite.  We unpacked anyway and set up our tent. Josh, Darren, and my husband had already raised and roped the tarp over  the picnic table so that we could keep that area somewhat dry.  The sky cleared beautifully.  It was still warm and so David and I went swimming in the lake.  It was lovely.  The water was warm and the mountain view was gorgeous and peaceful.

We left the water around dusk and built a fire to warm us up and to cook our supper.  We decided to skip the steaks so I cut up cooked potatoes and red peppers to fry in olive oil in a dutch oven.  After they browned, I added "already cooked" bacon and sausage and then some beaten eggs.  It was delicious and filling.

We took our chairs to the Lopez campsite to join the rest of our group.  We sang and talked.  The kids played made up games.  Isaiah, from my Sunday school class came over to greet me with excitement.  Jayden asked her mother what I was doing there.  I guess I am not supposed to be anywhere else besides class on Sunday morning.

Close to midnight we went back to our tent.  The winds whipped our tarp and the hydroelectric turbines pumped the water back from Keowee into Jocasse to be reused.  The sound of the waves and wind lulled me asleep.  The tarp drove David crazy.  Around 2 he finally got up to tie the tarp down.  I stuck my head out to  view the beauty and wonder of night over the lake.  It looks and feels magical. Shortly after this the rain started again.  It didn't stop this time.  We stayed dry in our tent though and woke early the next morning.

 The temperature dropped throughout the morning as we packed the car.  We left our tarp up and the Gallier's came over with their bagels and cheerios to eat at a dry table.  They have four blonde haired beauties all under the age of 8.  They were a joy to watch and interact with.

At 9:30  we met as a group once again to have a morning service.  A young couple from our group was being baptized that morning.  David, one of our pastors spoke and then the father of the young woman being baptized spoke.  He told about the supposed coincidences that brought them to this juncture. I stood chilled by the rain and wind and watched a couple in their twenties who are parents of two young girls step into the water. Going into the water symbolizes  death to the old life of sin and selfishness. The coming out  of the water symbolizing rebirth to a new and different life that is ruled by God's Spirit.  Tears came to my eyes witnessing these holy moments. The thoughts came to me, "I would have missed this if I had left because of the rain."

My plans were to spend time with Rachel and Josh. My plans didn't pan out  When the rains came on Saturday and our children left, it would have been easy to pack up and leave too.  I am so glad that we didn't. There would have been a lot that we would have missed. God is good and so often His plans for us are not the same plans we have for ourselves.  It can be jobs, relationships, or health. "You fill in the blank!"  We have all had a lot of vitamin disappointment.  It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but sometimes it is the very disappointment that leads us to a greater more meaningful fuller purpose. So in the midst of your disappointment, "Persevere!" because the tendrils of hope desire to capture you and drive the despair away.

A person plans his course,
but the Lord directs his steps.

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Creation Balm for the Soul

I woke up dragging this morning, not wanting to do anything but click on my laptop.  But waiting in the garden were beans to be picked and I had fall bedding plants that needed to go in the ground and the chicken coop needed to be cleaned out

 Responsibility won over the tired weariness of the week.  After spending that time outdoors with my garden and my chickens, I found myself less burdened by my week and physically more energetic.  I do grow physically weary but recognize that a lot of my heaviness comes from the serious issues of the world around me.  We are all so tuned in with our smartphones. ipads, laptops etc.  Things that happen 6000 miles away are instantly known in the far corners of Anytown, USA.  If you are like me and need a little help coping with the crazy of the world, I recommend these two articles as an antidote.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chicken on the Lam

Several weeks ago we took care of our neighbor's chickens.  He offered to give us his flock because of his health issues.  We ended up splitting the flock with him and a couple of days ago we became  owners of one rooster and five hens.  The first day was idyllic as we sat in the backyard with our neighbor talking until dark and watching the chickens peck and make their little chicken clucking whispery sounds.  It was so peaceful.

The next day after work my husband and I decided that we would clip wings so that our little array of chickens could forage in the fenced area of our yard.  In the process of clipping wings we discovered that our fence was not chicken proof.  Four of the girls escaped through the slats of the fence.  

It was on then.  For the next hour and half we chased chickens.  One girl ran back into the fenced area and I was able to chase her into the chicken run.  She promptly collapsed by the coop, not wanting to move.  Mr. Rooster crowed and clucked his disapproval at us allowing his little harem an escape route.  Girl number two we chased  into some tall, thick grass in the field next to us.  She crouched down into the grass seeming to disappear.  We snagged her squawking figure and put her back into the pen.

Two down and two to go.  Chicken number three was a Plymouth Rock.  She gave us fits. Most of the time she stayed under a hedge that runs the length of our property.  My husband got on one side and I got on the other.  As the "Capture the Chicken" game wore into early evening, both my husband I became more aggressive.  We dove into the brush, crawled under the bushes on our bellies trying to capture little "Miss Elusive".  Sometimes she would leave the brush and feast unhurriedly on the grass.  Whenever we approached her she would skittle back under cover.  Close to dark, a chicken hawk flew into view.  Chicken number four made her  presence known by making noise in the woods.  I went looking for her as my husband continued to try and capture "Miss Elusive".  She headed for the fence and hubby was able to grab her and get her back safe inside the pen.  Chicken number four was ready to roost but not ready for me to put my hands on her.  She clucked and squawked her way back and forth in and out of the woods.  She tried to roost again.  I lunged for her coming away with only a hand of tail feathers.  I never saw her again that evening.  We tried to look with flashlights but to no avail.  We secured the chickens in the pen and  headed inside with bug bites, scratches and dirt covering our legs and feet.  

The next morning we checked the chickens who were clucking peacefully eating their morning mash.  As it got lighter chicken number four emerged running, flapping and squawking from the woods.  She ran for the neighbors fence where his dog stood sentinel.  She made one last leap and squawk.  I headed round the house as quickly as I could to find my last chicken on the lam.  She had disappeared once again.  

I am a lot like that fugitive chicken.  I spend the night roosting in the scary woods filled with shadows and real enemies that want to destroy me instead of safe in the arms of my Caretaker.  I squawk, run and lose my tail feathers fighting against the will of the One who knows the best for me.  I don't know the fate of my little stubborn Rhode Island Red.  I still look for her each day with my chances of finding her slimmer all the time.
"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?"