Give me a word, Lord: THE MORE FEATHERS, THE BETTER

This is an excerpt from my book, Inspirations from the Funny Farm. Enjoy!

Job 12:7-10 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Several years ago, we decided that we would get a few chickens. My dad had raised chickens when I was younger, but this chicken farming was all new to my husband and me. We figured that we would get a few chickens, and then the chickens would lay a few eggs, and it would be a good learning experience for the kids. Besides, how hard could raising a few birds be? Plus, the chickens would provide our breakfast hot and fresh every day. Win, win!

Before we go any further though, I am aching to answer that age-old question: what came first: the chicken or the egg? Well, I think the answer is completely obvious although many may disagree. The chicken came first, of course! The Bible is my instruction manual for life, and all of the answers to all of life’s questions are right there in print. Genesis 1:21 says “So God created…every winged bird according to its kind.” It’s right there in the good Book, and it’s as plain as day. God created birds first. Genesis doesn’t say anything about God creating eggs, incubating them and waiting 28 days for them to hatch. No, it says God created birds. I have never understood why this was even debated in the past.

We picked out a few chicks, and my husband built a cute little chicken coop. It was perfect for housing a few chickens. He even divided the coop into two sections so that I could get a couple of beautiful peacocks which I will tell you more about in a bit.  We spent hours playing with our chickens every week. We could pick them up easily, hold them, cuddle them, and hug them. I even have a t-shirt that says, “have you hugged your chicken today?”

I never realized how a few chickens could change one’s life. Looking back now, I can see God’s hand in all of this. Shortly after we made a first chicken purchase, my husband had to have back surgery. He had to remain off work for three months. You don’t know my husband, but if you did, you would know that three months without working could have pretty near brought him to the brink of insanity. He is an extremely hard-working man. He gets up before the sun, and he puts in a full day’s work before most people have even gotten out of bed. Thankfully, we had the chickens. Jeff was able to piddle a little with the coops without doing anything too strenuous. 

One of my favorite bible verses comes to mind here. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. I fully believe that God knew my hard-working husband would soon have three months of down time, and He knew in advance that Jeff would need something to keep his mind busy while his body healed from surgery. God’s plans are always so much better than ours.  While I worried over how my husband was going to deal with three months of not being able to work, it turns out, God had worked it out already and provided him with some well needed chicken therapy! That’s what we referred to it as: “chicken therapy”. Several minutes to hours were spent out in the coop and around the coop on an almost daily basis. My husband said many times that he was so thankful for those chickens during that time in our lives. I could have never dreamed that a few chickens would be so comforting.

 We fell in love with the chickens, and we decided we needed more birds. Geese were our next addition. We purchased six tiny little African goslings. We knew that geese had a reputation of being unruly and downright mean, but we also knew that we would show these little babies love. We would raise our goslings with tender care, and our geese would be different! We loved them and nurtured them just like the chickens, and the goslings grew into rather large geese. They stood about waist high when they were full grown. They never showed aggression towards my husband or I, but for some reason, they just didn’t like the kids. They would squawk, make all kinds of racket, bow up and hiss, and soon they began chasing the kids all around the yard whenever the kids went to feed the birds. One day, one of the geese began chasing my son, who was around twelve at the time. When that goose finally caught him, he bit him right in the front crotch area of his pants! My son screamed. My husband had to swat the crazy goose away. I was fighting back laughter and tears as the whole scene was hilarious. Thankfully, the goose didn’t make contact with skin or with anything else that was in the vicinity where he bit. For some strange reason, from that time on, the kids refused to go feed the birds. We couldn’t allow the geese to scare the children, so they had to go. We sold them: the geese, not the children. Lesson learned. Through the years, I have learned that you can nurture a creature, in this case a goose, but you can’t change the nature of a creature. The nature is ingrained in the DNA.  The only one that can truly change the nature of a being is the good Lord Himself, and I guess the good Lord decided not to change the nature of our geese.

The geese didn’t work out, so we thought we would try guineas. I like to research any animal that we acquire, and when I read that guineas were great at protecting property and animals, and that they ate pests to boot, I was sold! We bought a few guineas, and we decided to give them a trial run. If you have never owned guinea fowl or seen a guinea, might I recommend that you google guinea images. Those little boogers are some kind of ugly! Seriously, during our times of chicken therapy, I put a lot of thought into those ugly little faces. Why in the world did God make a creature that had a face only a mother could love?

After the guineas, we added a few ducks and some turkeys to our brood. Our fine feathered friendly farm was growing by leaps and bounds. We bought a Standard Bronze turkey, and we named him Goliath. He was the largest turkey we ever had. He was humongous, and his legs were so thick it looked as if he had cankles. He so heavy that he could not fly. He followed us all over the yard waddling around like a mama at the end of her pregnancy. He even played soccer with the kids’ soccer ball. He eventually dressed out at 32 pounds, and we shared him with our pastor for Christmas dinner one year. Yep, that was one fine turkey.

The other turkeys we have raised were Eastern Wild turkeys. These are my husband’s favorites as they are the local wild turkey native to this area. They can be mean too though, especially the gobblers. However, the guineas are much meaner than the turkeys. Guineas are just regular old bullies in feathered clothing. Our turkeys used to roost on top of the chicken coop at night. The guineas would then fly up on top of the coop and walk sideways, edging their way closer to the turkeys until they pushed the turkeys completely off their roost. For no reason at all, they just shoved the poor old turkeys off their roosts.

The turkeys were for the most part gentle. We had a rogue gobbler every now and then that felt a strong desire to jump on people and attack them without warning. We also had one particular gobbler that was madly, passionately in love with my husband. I had never seen anything like it. This male turkey would strut and gobble for my husband. It was hilarious. While we were sitting outside innocently engaging in chicken therapy, this crazy gobbler would walk up and rub up against my husband, strut, and gobble, and make noises that I had not heard prior to this specific bird encounter. Strutting is an instinctive behavior, and it describes the courtship display of the wild turkey. This wild turkey was courting my husband right in front of my very eyes! The nerve of him! We laughed to the point of tears at that silly thing. He didn’t seem to care for me or my curly locks. He was only into my husband. He was very much into my husband! He would even hang out on our back porch, and he would peer in through the French doors making goo goo eyes at my husband. That crazy bird made us laugh more than any other bird! We bought him his very own hen, but he wasn’t interested in her at all.  It seems he only had eyes for Jeff!

Sometime during all this feathered frenzy, we decided to get peacocks. My hairdresser’s son was raising peacocks, and he agreed to sell us a pair. I was so excited. My husband had the coop ready, and we went and picked up a pair of beautiful Indian Blue peacocks. They were the prettiest birds I had ever seen. Those poor guineas looked even uglier at this point. We arrived home with the peacocks, put them in their new coop, and latched the door. My husband then left to go to work offshore. The next morning, I went out to feed the birds, and the peacock cage was open. The latch did not hold, and they literally flew the coop. They were new to the farm, and of course, didn’t know their way around and thus didn’t know their way home. We searched high and low, but to no avail. I decided to get another pair. I was in awe of the beauty of these lovely birds.

As I said, my husband was offshore. This meant his truck was not at home. At the time, I was driving a Toyota Camry with leather interior. It was a cool little ride. The peacocks were available for pick up, and I did not have a pickup truck to pick them up in. What was a girl to do? I covered the back seat of my car with empty feed sacks, and put the cage on top of the feed sacks and off I went. I picked up the peacocks, loaded them in the car, and all was well…for about 2 minutes. The car ride apparently scared the peacocks, and this resulted in scared peacock pooing…in the back seat…of my Camry. It was a gosh awful smell, and I had a 20 minute ride to get back home. That was the longest 20 minutes ever! I had my head hanging out of the driver’s window sucking in as much fresh air as I could to try to get the horrid odor out of my nose. I arrived home with the young peacock pair safely, and then I deodorized my car.  A few days later, a fellow church member called and asked if I had lost a peacock. Turns out, our male had been roosting in a tree at her house. We were able to bring him home too, but we used my husband’s truck this time!

Over the years, birds have come and gone. We’ve tried raising quail, pheasants, and a few other feathered friends. No matter what though, we seem to keep way more chickens on hand than we need. When we started out with chickens, no one explained chicken math to us. With chickens 1 + 1 = 15, and 20 + 20 = about a million, give or take one or two! We incubated a few eggs in the past, but we have found out that if we just leave it up to the chickens and the good Lord, they are much better incubators that we are. It seems that every few weeks we have another brood of baby chicks peeping and pecking around the property. It’s always a joy to hear those new little peeps. Unfortunately, a lot of those cute little peeps grow into big old roosters. We have more roosters than we know what to do with. The roosters are beautiful with brightly colored plumage: reds, greens, and deep black. For the most part, our roosters are not mean, but we have had a few in the past that would jump on a person for no reason whatsoever. Have you ever had the misfortune of being spurred by a rooster? I have, and sadly, I must admit, more than once. I always try to give a creature the benefit of the doubt, and give them more than one opportunity to get back into my good graces. However, if a rooster continues to jump on me and spur me after a couple of good warnings, well that rooster just may turn into a good old pot of chicken and dumplings or chicken gumbo! I don’t keep anything on the farm that can harm me or any other unknowing victim!

The birds have taught us so much. We’ve learned patience as we waited for eggs to incubate and hatch. We’ve learned a new math called chicken math which is quite different from the math we learned in grade school! We’ve seen the beauty of God’s creations with brilliant colors in each of the birds we have raised, and we’ve seen how God created each one of these creatures distinctly different with their own little personalities and quirks. Most of all, the birds taught us how to love God’s creations, and they made us want more! God created humans with the ability to love. The Bible spells out the account of the greatest love story ever written, from Creation to the Revelations, and it fills my heart with great joy. If God put so much love and thought into creating these birds of the land and the air, I can only imagine how much He must love us humans! He made us in His image so He must really love us a lot! Just the thought of the love is so awesome. The love of our Father, His attention to the details, and the way He cares for all of creation is something I will never get over! I just have to say it again, “Thank you, God!”

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