I have raised a yard full of chickens for eight years now. Eight long years of dashing into the coop during an unexpected storm, and closing the birds up to keep them from being pounded into chicken kabobs by hail. Eight years of racing around the pasture, frantically gathering them up when they manage to escape from the safety of the backyard.
Today, after giving it much thought, I threw in the towel on my career as a chicken farmer. I have no regrets. After all, I have learned a great deal about chickens. Seems they are on the bottom of the food chain. Indeed, they are but mere plankton in the sea of life.
Everything, and I mean everything, eats chickens. IĎve chased great horned owls from the coop, opossums, coyote, egg-eating snakes the size of my mother, and numerous stray dogs that wander by. LetĎs not forget chicken hawks. Chicken hawks are not named chicken hawks because they eat caviar, I have come to realize.
Many years of scooping up felled chickens built up to the point where I found myself no longer enjoying my hobby. Oh, I loved those chickens, donít get me wrong. But, it seemed no matter how I fought, mother nature always won. One by one, they slowly succumbed to those things that creep silently in the night who have a palate for white meat.
This afternoon, I found six hens that had got out, lying dead. Victims of a stray dog. The white towel of defeat drifted into the autumn wind, as I solemnly shuffled into the house, and ran an ad to re-home them. It was time, and it was the right thing to do for them.
I wouldnít give my flock to just anyone, I decided. My birds deserved a good, safe home. I carefully explained as I typed out the ad, that it was a hard decision to let them go, but admitted I could not keep them safe. I wanted them to go to someone who would take every measure to build a safe, inescapable habitat for them. I wanted them to have a home where they were loved, and enjoyed, for something other than their delectable taste.
That someone contacted me very quickly.
There are days I forget to talk to God. Iíll admit, those days might run into a month or more. I know Heís there, but when things are going well, I often forget to pray. When things are bad, Iím found kneeling against my bed, rocking on my knees with my hands pressed firmly together, hoping Heíll listen to me, if just for a moment. After all, he is a busy, busy man tending his flocks.
Today, God sent me a gentle reminder that he is still with me. He let me know he still walks with me, as I pick up the lifeless bodies of his precious flock. He was in the soft wind as it whispered around me, even though I had not talked to Him in many days.
He sent me a man who wants to love those hens, and keep them safe. And, best of all, this kind individual has shown me how God works in mysterious ways. How God creeps up, and sends us gentle reminders that he is still with us, even though the chips, and the egg counts, are down.
My chickens will soon be going to a new home. They will now be called ĎGodís FlockĎ, their new owner explained. He plans to build them a new coop that Houdini could not escape. Then, he will gather their eggs, and donate them to the church pantry.
I must remember, God is always there, even if I sometimes forget to pray. He will quietly send me a gentle reminder from the blueberry sky, as he did today. His flock now has a new start, a new purpose. Their eggs will feed the hungry, they will feed the poor.
I couldnít be happier, as I gaze above me, and see that towel of victory drifting in the autumn winds.