Home Sweet Hen

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                      “The chicken does not exist only in order to produce another egg. He may also exist to amuse himself,                          to praise God, and even to suggest ideas to a French dramatist.” ― G.K. Chesterton

 

John Steinbeck, in his book East of Eden, described one of his female characters as being “humorless as a chicken.”  I do not know what kind of chickens Mr. Steinbeck had observed, but in our estimation, chickens are some of the funniest creatures God created on this earth!  Oftentimes, as we watch our hens in the evening, waiting for them to go into their coop (Yes, they put themselves to bed when it gets dark!  Wouldn’t it be great if our children did that?!) either the MAN or I will turn to the other and exclaim, “Chickens are better than television!”  If you have never seen a chicken run,  just close your eyes for a moment and think of the Velociraptors featured in Jurassic Park, only smaller, with no teeth and feathers.  

It made you smile, didn’t it?  

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20150824_073747Let me introduce you to our chickens. They are beautiful, buff colored, Orpington chickens which are both good layer and (whispering now) meat chickens.  Although, I don’t think these girls have to worry.  They are more like hens with benefits.  Not only do they provide us with a steady (okay, almost steady) supply of eggs, they are very beneficial to our garden by digging in the dirt, eating bugs and well, pooping.

A lot of pooping.  

Seriously, we have some of the most beautiful, vibrant colored Morning Glories I have ever seen growing on the fence along their garden/pen enclosure.  If you ask the MAN the secret to our lush vines and beautiful blooms, he simply says, “Chicken poop.”  I think I will have to agree.

IMG_1737Believe or not, each chicken has it’s own very unique personality.  Our broody, mother hen is Fried (pictured on the left).  She is the darkest chicken, with a small, pale cockscomb.  She is an opportunistic eater that will steal a worm right out from under another chicken after they have done all the work of unearthing it.  She has been on the receiving end of some angry pecks as the disgruntled hen let’s Fried know of her displeasure.  20150820_120303In this flock, the early bird doesn’t always  get the worm!  Then there is Alfredo.  She is Fried’s eating buddy.  Although, with a friend like Fried, she might want to rethink that relationship.  Alfredo is the hen perched upon the top of the feeder in the picture on the right.  It looks as if Fried has been teaching her well.  Perhaps instead of saying “cluck-cluck” they should say “oink-oink!” 

Drumstick is third in the pecking order.  She was named by our wonderful pastor who loves to come visit our micro-farm.  He told us if he comes to dinner and we are having chicken, he doesn’t want to know who he is eating. 20150725_151103Then he told us a story about when he was a boy and his parents bought a cow and named it Hamburger.

Their first mistake.  They named their cow…

…did I mention we named our chickens?

After they raised it for a few years, his parents had it slaughtered and none of the kids would eat it!  They ended up having to give all the meat away.  City-slickers!  I am not being disrespectful.  Pastor Doug is a self proclaimed city slicker, but he has a true shepherds heart.  Anyway, his chicken, Drumstick, has a big floppy cockscomb and is no slouch when it comes to defending her turf.  She has chased the BOY out of the garden area just for looking at her funny.

IMG_1743Lastly is our best layer and by far the most spoiled of our chickens, Parmesan. Or should I say, Princess Parmesan.  She is lowest in the pecking order, but is by far our prettiest, fluffiest hen.  The BOY remarked one day that if we had a rooster, he would surely pick Parmesan because she is the prettiest girl.  But, Parmesan is not just good-looking, she is a great layer.  She lays an egg like clockwork every morning around 10 am.  Her eggs are the largest and often have double, even triple yolks!  The picture on the right is a sneak peek at her in action.  But, don’t let that sweet face fool you, she is also our craziest chicken.  Woe to the bird that dares to enter our yard when she is on duty!  Perhaps we should call her “Warrior Princess Parmesan!”  

Okay.  I can’t write a whole post just about chickens.

Well, I could.

But, I won’t.

One of the things I have always loved about being in the country, or simply gardening, working outdoors and raising animals, is all of the ways that I am constantly reminded of God and what is written in His Word.

Even chickens.

They praise God.

Didn’t you read the quote at the top?  

Okay.  Now that you are back.  I assume you went back and read the quote.  Obviously, Chesterton does need a little lesson on the birds and the bees, the “he” chicken does not lay eggs.  Just sayin’.

IMG_1148 (3)The other day, after I had finished my morning chores, I was leaning on the gate to the garden area and watching our chickens scratching and digging in the dirt.  They do this funny little chicken dance that looks like a cross between the Moonwalk and the Electric Slide.  Scratch, scratch, backwards slide.  Their eyes keenly search the freshly razed dirt for bugs and worms.  Sometimes they peck at things we can’t even see.

The MAN and I are constantly amazed at the things that they dig up (besides huge ankle twisting holes!): old pull tops from cans, plastic beads, marbles, tons of broken glass, nails, screws and (shudder!) bones. We have been saving the more unusual items and want to attach a small curio shelf to the back of the garage to display these little treasures.  Seriously, archeologists are wasting their time with all of those picks, shovels and brushes.  All they need is a few chickens.

Okay, that was a little bit of a bunny trail, down a rabbit hole or chicken hole…

So, as I watched our hens diligently searching for food, I thought to myself, “That’s exactly how it should be when we read God’s Word.” We should be so hungry for the Word that we dig deep, carefully examining each verse, devouring every last crumb of our daily bread which is food for our souls.

Then there are the treasures.  I am not talking about those curiosities our chickens dig up, but the rare and precious jewels of wisdom and knowledge which are described in Proverbs as being a garland to grace your head or adornment for your neck.  That’s a necklace we should wear everyday.  It flatters the face of every child of God and sparkles in the light of Christ.

Did you dig for treasure today? Are you wearing your necklace?  I hope you are.  

But, you might want to be careful wearing it around the chickens.  It just might catch their eye.  😉

Love ya, MJ

PS In case you didn’t get enough, here are some more chicken pictures and what-not:

This is what it looks like when Parmesan  has to lay an egg:  “It’s coming!

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Who needs a magazine when we have our very own Birds and Blooms?!

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Chicken football: she punts…and misses.

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Our pretty Princess Parmesan.

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A Secret Hope

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“…she never had what she wanted till she had given up hoping for it,” said Mrs. Meg.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Jo’s Boys

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There is this BOY and he has kind of stolen my heart.  He plays in the dirt, runs in his bare feet and jumps in puddles.  He climbs trees, lays in the grass and picks me dandelions.  He is a bug hunter, a dinosaur slayer, and a brave soldier.  But, the best thing of all is that he calls me “Mom.”

“Mom.”  It is one of the sweetest sounding words in all of language.

Through the years, I have longed for a son.  I faithfully prayed the prayer of Hannah from the book of 1 Samuel time and time again.  But, sadly, much of my desire for a son was fueled by the pain of loss.  When I was a young woman, I had a stillborn baby boy a couple of years after I had my daughter.  I mourned deeply over the loss of my son and never gave up hope that someday God would grant me the desire of my heart…that is, until I had a hysterectomy in 2012.  In some ways, based upon other circumstances, such as not having a husband to have a child with, it seemed unlikely that God would ever bless me with a son.

But, still, there was hope.

As long as I can remember, I have loved caring for children.  I started baby sitting when I was just a child of ten years old myself and I always liked taking care of little boys the best.  I suppose, in some ways, it was because I was a tomboy.  Although, I did like my Barbie dolls, I preferred being outside with the neighborhood boys.  I was always trying to run faster, jump higher or swim the farthest across the lake and I often did.  I remember one summer playing in my grandparent’s barn with the sons of my mother’s childhood friend.  We were climbing up into the rafters and jumping into a big pile of hay.  Let’s just say, there were several bruises and a sprained ankle and we all got whoopins.  But, I won!  

Throughout the years, I have cared for many children as a babysitter and full-time nanny.  I was employed as a teacher’s aide, a therapeutic foster care parent and offered respite.  I have been blessed to serve  in various children’s ministries, as the director and teacher of the Awana Cubbies, the Good News Club and as a vacation Bible school and Sunday school teacher.  But, even with all of these children in my life, of whom I have loved many as if they were my own, they were not my own.

Final-493 (2)A couple of months after my hysterectomy, I was on the phone with the MAN.  At that time we were just friends, a brother and sister in Christ.  God used him during that time as a comforter, always gently (and sometimes not so gently!) pointing me towards Christ in the midst of my sorrow.  As I was mourning my inability to ever have a child again, I shared the story of my stillborn baby boy with him.  I cried and said, “…and now I have lost my chance to ever have another son!”  I remember he gently, yet firmly rebuked me and said, “You do not know the plans that the Lord has for you.  If He wants you to have a son, you will have a son!”

The MAN was right.  Ssshhh!  Don’t tell him I said that!  

So, after courting me for two years, the MAN (who is the answer to my prayer for a husband like Boaz) and I were married last year and we finally shared our first kiss!  No.  You can’t see a picture.  But, don’t feel left out, our wedding guests didn’t see it, either.  The MAN modestly (and romantically) covered it with his hat.  And, the BOY, at long last, became my son!  He is the one that God had planned for me before the foundation of the world.  “”For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

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I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Lord did bless me with a beautiful daughter who is now a grown up woman with her own little girl.  I drew this picture a couple of years ago of her and I from an old photograph.  It was for an annual art auction at my church in Virginia used to help raise money for the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Tidewater.  I have been blessed that God has given me some special talents, and as much as possible, I attempt to use them to serve others.  I believe that beautiful art reflects God’s creation, there is a purpose and intricacy, just like the development of a child in the womb gives evidence of a beautifully complex and irreplaceable individual.

For this reason, it is our intention to adopt a child or children.  Specifically, we want to save a child from abortion, Lord willing.

Final-791 (2)The MAN and I believe that abortion is one of the vilest evils in this world. As Christians we should live our lives with a due sense of responsibility. We must do everything we can to overcome evil with good. We need to engage people and communicate a Biblical perspective on this issue. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”   The MAN and I choose life and we pray that God will open other people’s eyes to see the beauty and value of life, too.

The MAN, the BOY and I are excited to see how the Lord will answer our prayers to add another little blessing to our home.  As we begin this process, we would covet your prayers, support and advice.

Love ya, MJ

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot!  I promised in my last post that if you came back I would tell you the names of my chickens. They are, in pecking order, Fried, Drumstick, Alfredo and Parmesan.  But, I will have to wait to tell you about them in my next post.

Be blessed, dear hearts.

Family, Faith & Chickens

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“Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Hi, my name is MJ. I invite you to take a glimpse into this former Virginia girl’s ever changing, yet firmly rooted life here in the heart of the Central Valley in CA. Every season has its changes, some welcome and others, well, not so much. But, I have learned to flourish and rejoice in all of them and hope you will leave here feeling refreshed and more equipped to cope with whatever season you are in your life. So, grab a cup of coffee or pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, pull up a chair and sit a spell and let me introduce you to my family.  

 

 

This handsome guy is my husband, Brandon, the MAN. Whatever project we are working on, whether it is how to assemble an aquaponics system, keeping bees or building a chicken coop, he is the go-to guy. Brandon works hard to provide for our family as an installation technician of home automation and security systems that allow people to remotely manage and access their homes. He is definitely the brains of this operation and is a.k.a. “Techno Man,” but I have yet to talk him into wearing a cape! Although, he is too humble to say so himself, Brandon has broken many company records for his employers at MasTec and has made suggestions that have been implemented nationwide to improve employee performances and save the company a lot of money. I am so proud of my smart, talented and hard-working man! 

But, that is not his most important work. Brandon is a Particular Baptist preacher, serving and teaching at our church, Oasis of Hope, and fills the pulpit for our pastor on occasion. However, his first priority is building our little church here at home. Brandon leads us in daily prayer and devotions as he faithfully washes us in the water of God’s Word. We are blessed to have such a godly man lead our family!

 

 

I am also blessed to be the mother of this good-looking young man, our 11 year old son, Braxton, the BOY. Just look at those dimples! But, don’t let the picture fool you, he is all boy or as we like to say around here, he is the epitome of the definition of boy: dirt that makes noise! Whether he is riding his bike, digging holes in the backyard or rolling around in the grass with the DOG, Radar, he will find a way to get dirty. However, he also loves to sing hymns, perform science experiments and is an avid reader. He particularly likes historical fiction and nonfiction books about the founding of our nation and the faith of our fathers, such as The Light and the Glory or The Crown and Covenant series. He frequently quotes the character of the horse named “Liberty” in the Rush Revere books. Braxton certainly keeps us all on our toes, but he is a blessing and the answer to my many prayers for a son. 

Then there is me, the WOMAN. I am a Christian, wife, mother, and homeschooler. Writer, artist, photographer and gardener. My days are spent rising before the crack of dawn, waking up the BOY and groping my way to the coffee pot.  Meanwhile, the CAT, Mallow bounces across the hardwood floors like a Bronco all the way to the kitchen. Then I prepare breakfast for all of us and pack lunch for the MAN, while he is out back releasing the Kraken. Okay, not really, he is just letting our four bossy chickens, the GIRLS, out of their coop. After breakfast and our family prayer and devotion time, I give the MAN a kiss as he heads off to work.  At this point, it really depends on what time of the year it is that determines my plans for the day. Right now it is summer, so it is doing the bucket brigade with the BOY as we haul buckets of water from our storage tank for our organic garden full of herbs and heirloom vegetables. But, then there are water days!  We are only allowed to water two days a week during this man-made drought here in CA. No water themed amusement park could rival the joy we experience on those days. Whether it is feeling free as we liberally water our plants and animals with the hose or letting the BOY run through the sprinklers after dinner, water days are the best!  

When I am not homeschooling or doing housework, my days are filled with everything from nature walks, bike rides and photography; to coming up with my own original recipes for cooking, baking, canning and dehydrating food; to writing Sunday School lessons, journaling and doing art projects; to unit studies with the BOY (this summer we are doing a unit study on the Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder) piano lessons and going on visitations to the homes of members of our church. 

Phew!  It is a busy life, but I love it!  

And I would like to share it with you.  

So, if you want to know what this country girl thinks about all day and learn the names of our chickens, come back and visit me.  I will be sharing how we became a family, what it is like to be the wife of the preacher MAN, why I am so thankful to be the mother of the BOY and how we hope to grow this family through adoption. 

With love, MJ