In 2017 we were visited by a small flock of chickens. This blog, and the blogs for the next three weeks are about those memories.
I evicted the raccoon, ground hog, and opossum from the premises. Then I repaired the 8’x10’ barns to prevent predators from hiding close to the coop and put up new fencing to keep predators out of the chicken yard. The chickens and squirrels get along together, and the chickens love to eat little worms, frogs, and every kind of moving bug they can catch. Bugs are happy meals for happy chickens. (Yes! They do eat small frogs.)
Every night I latch the doors to the coop and latch the gate to the chicken yard. I feed the four hens and one rooster well, keeping food and water available 24-hours a day, and I give them scratch, table scraps, and other goodies every day. I try to protect my flock.
Carol and I decided to let the hens hatch a batch of chicks. All four hens took turns laying the eggs in one nest. I suppose the hens drew straws and Goldie was chosen to be the Momma. Twenty-three eggs fit inside the nest, so we began gathering the rest.
In New Mexico, we raised chickens and turkeys from 1973-1978. Buying the chicks at 3-days old, we didn’t hatch our own, therefore, this would be the first time we hatched … uh … let our hen hatch them, and we had a lot to learn.
I forgot that the mama hen turns the eggs several times a day. Thinking that one of the hens laid an egg on top of the 23, I took it and put it in the refrigerator. (We wash all the eggs we collect.) Four days later, Carol and I were negatively surprised when I cracked that egg to cook it, and dropped a fully-developed chicken as big as the first two digits on my baby finger into the pan. It had previously died in the fridge.
One night I got home late and forgot to secure the coop. The next morning, I found chicken feathers all over the yard, but no rooster. Fred (the rooster) apparently had fought the predator to protect his harem, and gave his life for them. But in the fracas, Fred also mortally wounded the opossum, and I found the opossum’s carcass in the corner of the yard. However, something else (coyote?) had jumped the fence and took Fred’s carcass.
Never again will I forget to secure the coop.
After Goldie sat on the nest for three weeks, the eggs began hatching. Eleven hatched, but one died. I called the remaining babies “Our ten chicklets.” I made sure I closed and latched the coop, but there was something else I didn’t know: the other hens would hurt or kill the babies.
Making the fatal mistake of allowing the hens to be in the same coop with the babies, the next morning I found eight dead chicklets. It was my fault, and I felt terrible. Even worse, while Goldie was trying to protect her young’uns, the other three hens attacked her. That broke our hearts, and I resolved to keep the hens away from Goldie and her remaining babies until they were older. Goldie recovered, but a week later, one of the chicklets died.
The remaining chicklet is nearly full-size now, and she has a name: Baby. So, we have Red Head, Whitey, Elona, Goldie, and Baby. Now the hens don’t attack Baby; it’s just the regular “pecking-order” that takes place.
As I’ve been thinking about all this, the Church came to mind. Too often, if someone’s theology differs from ours, they are labeled or branded as in error. Regardless of theology, if they tend to differ in other seemingly important areas, the church often tends to shun them or separate from them. We sometimes “kill” them socially by damaging their reputation. And if we allow our emotions to control us, we can even insult Jesus by splitting His Church. This ought not to be!
People who are made in the image of God should not act like animals. I Peter 4:8 informs us that we should look for ways to love and protect God’s flock.
Neither you nor I are perfect, so learn to accept others as they are. Love and honor God by loving and protecting His flock. Remember: you need their friendship as much as they need yours.
I’ll tell you more about the flock in the next three weeks.