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Lessons from the chicken coop

Wanda Smith writes about her love/hate relationship with chickens
On the Front Porch by Wanda Smith

As you know, my sister and I grew up on a mixed farm complete with an eclectic collection of weird and interesting animals. Included in the variety of animals were a myriad of fowl such as guinea hens, English trumpeter pigeons, and bantam hens. For some reason, I had a fear of the chickens and stayed as far from the chicken coop as possible, although I did have the responsibility to clean the eggs Dad had collected. I did not like anything about chickens. Did you know one main thing Hubby and I agreed upon when we got married was that we didn’t want to raise chickens?

Fast forward 35 years and I find my life full circle. Not only do I clean eggs, I also collect them and feed/water the chickens that lay the eggs! Here I am after 25 years of marriage with a chicken coop and baking with freshly-laid eggs. You have every reason to chuckle.

I am confident that to this day I would still be afraid of chickens if it hadn’t been for Big Sweet Pea’s insatiable desire to raise chickens. Around the age of 12, Hubby and I agreed she could have them if she did every part of raising them, caring for them, and dealing with the eggs. Since she has left the nest, the chickens are still intact and I am now finding myself actually enjoying them. Go figure.

Of course, we took care of them for her when she was away for school over the past winter because she had plans on returning to find work but has since decided to head back to school in the fall so this brings me to my present dilemma... do we or don’t we keep the chickens?  

As I mentioned, I admit I am actually enjoying having these interesting creatures around now. Yesterday, I was pondering why the change of heart... I believe what has happened is that we have developed a “relationship.” Before, I was just glad for fresh eggs in the fridge when Big Sweet Pea was in charge. I had no vested interest in them and was far removed from them. Now, things are different.  

Early in the morning they greet me with happy clucks and look around anticipating some table scraps. They put themselves to bed at night and wait for me to shut their door. When I come to put them to bed, there are three white hens that peek out of the top nesting boxes instead of roosting. They remind me of the Muppets looking out over the balcony; what a hoot. I giggle at them every night I close up their coop. There have been times the door has swung shut in a big wind, so they come to the gate to let me know they need some help. I put up with the chicken manure on my shoes to tiptoe in to find beautiful oblong eggs laid in their choice of nesting box. I am their friend and provider. In return, they provide therapy and eggs.

I have to think that good relationships are built on some of the same principles. When we are willing to get into someone else’s life, with their funny ways and the mess that shows up from time to time, we develop a relationship that goes far deeper than just being in it for ourselves. Just food for thought from the chicken coop this week... 

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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