Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tilt and Changing my perspective

This summer, i got to spend a lot of time hatching chicks.  SO much fun!

But for some reason, i started having some formation anomalies in some of my chicks in every single hatch.  In the beginning, i didn't have any place set up to keep any special needs, chicks, and i assumed it was an anomaly, and not a trend.  So....i would do the wise farmer thing and um....return the deformed chicks to the earth, so to speak.

Pretty much always, the deformed chicks would be "late hatchers."  They would take longer to make it out of their shells than the main group, and all too often not make it, in spite of my attempts to help.

In response to this pattern, i became very frustrated, instituting a policy that late hatchers would not be helped - or even allowed to try to finish hatching - once the main group was finished hatching and ready to go to market, remaining eggs, mid-hatch or otherwise, would be "cleaned up."

This policy lasted about one hatch.

My chicken hatching friend assured me that my policy wasn't heartless and cold, but ... the giant efforts of tiny lives, to survive and to thrive, soon re-encaptured my attention and my compassion.  This is when i established a special needs unit in my outdoor brooder.

Every hatch had plenty of healthy chicks -- and a few who couldn't keep up.  So the healthy ones were sent off to market, and the late hatches were added to the special needs unit.  Soon, my special needs unit grew to around a dozen chicks, of varying ages, and of varying needs.

At one point i even purchased some special needs chicks from the feed store and brought them home so that they would have a chance at survival.

And my policy changed.  Now, the rule became, "whoever tries to lives, gets the chance to try."  And that's that.  A few tried and didn't make it.  Others hatchlings became entirely normal, with very little intervention, and are now a part of my flock.  I became in awe of how much healing took place in my little special needs unit. It was just a lot of unexpected life.

And then there's Tilt.

See how the circled chick is kind of on her belly, instead of on her legs?  This is Tilt.  Some chicks get what is called Spraddle Leg, where their legs don't stay under them, and they kind of spread to the sides like Bambi on ice.  This condition i have treated many times, with a band aid strip that holds their legs in correct position and helps make sure they don't start growing in that incorrect position.  In simple cases, it only takes a day or maybe two days, and then the chicks are pretty much fine and dandy.

But in the case of Tilt, her legs wouldn't correct.  They sort of kind of corrected a little bit, but after a while, i realized that one of her legs was actually growing in the wrong direction, kind of out the side of her body.  I didn't get an x-ray or anything, but it appeared to me that her whole frame was kind of tilted, thus her name. 

Now, i know that i could get a lot of advice on this little girl about "putting her out of her misery," and such and the like.  But i have this new rule, remember?  Whoever wants to live, gets the chance to try.  And Tilt..she tries hard.  This girl figured out how to push herself around the brooder, eat, drink, travel, socialize.....she looks funny, but she gets where she's going.  And she has grown and grown and grown.  

Eventually, Tilt moved with the rest of the chicks, into the big chicken coop, where she pushed herself around, ate, drank, socialized, etc.  As her contemporaries started spending their time outside, and i was pondering how i could build a ramp of some sort that would allow Tilt to enjoy the great outdoors, she started pushing herself out the chicken door, throwing herself off of the one foot drop to the ground, so that she could be with the other chickens.  This chicken wants to live.

However, it has become painfully apparent that she is enduring some serious bullying from her coop-mates, and no matter how many seminars you give to a flock of chickens, they have a really hard time learning to be sensitive to those with different abilities.  A really hard time.  Like they don't even get it at all.  

So today, i had to remove Tilt from her flock, for her own protection.  And now she's alone, in a crate on my porch.  Lonely, but she doesn't have to compete for feed, and no one is pecking her in the head.

But this won't last, as chickens need other chickens in order to thrive, and now Tilt needs a new home.  With nicer friends.

And if anyone of my local chicken-loving friends are interested and think you might have an ideal situation for Tilt, please contact me asap.

For fun, here are some pictures of beautiful chickens.  Many of the little ones, are formerly special needs chicks, who are now gracing my chicken yard with a lot of beauty.  

This is Tilt.  She's about 8-10 weeks old.  She's a white rock, and she really wants to live.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

the view from eternity

Sometimes i think that writing about deep spiritual thoughts is something i should do only sometimes.  But you know, i turned 39 this year.  I'm pretty sure deep spiritual thoughts, might just be part of who i am.  I think i'll stop fighting it.

So here's one for you.

Recently, i heard a little story on the radio, told by the Christian singer, Mandisa, telling her inspiration for one of her songs.  The song is irrelevant to this particular deep thought (it's Overcomer), but the story made me think.

I'm rusty on the writing, and i'm trying to cram some decent blogging into an insufficient time slot, so try to ignore the non-smoothness of this post.

The story is about a friend (of Mandisa, not me), who heartbreakingly (if it's not a word, it certainly should be) became pregnant with her second child AND learned that she had breast cancer, in the same short season of life.  This friend had to go through prenatal care and chemotherapy at the same time, and in the interest of protecting her unborn child, didn't undergo all the chemotherapy she might have, if she weren't simultaneously nurturing her growing child.  The overly summarized, apparent end of this story, is that this loving mother lost her battle with cancer, leaving two children without a mother, and i'm just guessing, a husband without his wife.

This story definitely made me cry.  It was about 30 seconds of radio airtime, but i got pretty invested in the plight of this unnamed friend in that short time, and i was disappointed that her story ended this way.  Until i realized that this was far from the end of her story.

We, currently earthbound mortals, are generally very short-sighted.  We think that the end of our story is indicated by the day our bodies stop breathing.  But it isn't.  Not even close.

This lady in the story, whose name i don't know, made a choice.  She could easily have chosen to go to every length to save her own life, at the expense of her unborn baby.  She could have reasoned that her older child needed a mother.  She could easily have justified a decision to save her own life and to purposely end the life of her child in order to do so.  But she didn't.

I don't know her, and i don't know what she thought, but i imagine that she might have decided that if the purpose of her life on earth was to give life to these to children, and then exit this world, that that was going to be ok with her.  I imagine that she conceived not only a baby, but the concept that God must have some purpose for this life inside of her, the impact of which was worth her giving up hers, if necessary.  I think that she had to at some point, decide that she would give everything and anything to preserve this eternal purpose growing in her body.

I might not be explaining it right, but the realization of what i imagine God's perspective to be on this whole situation, made me cry even more than my first encounter with this story, but in a different way.

We rarely remember that our lives are meant for eternity, not just earthly life.  Even though we don't understand what the other side of our physical mortality looks like, there's a whole lot more happening in that dimension, stuff that we sometimes just catch a tiny glimpse of, a glimpse that we need to try to hang on to.  To keep perspective on the comparably menial trials of this life.  It's just THIS life.  It's really important to do it well, but it's not the end.  It's just the preamble to eternity.

You thought i was going to say, "it's just the beginning," but i didn't.   For extra cheese, i could have, but i was going for truth, not cheese.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Penguins and Deep Thoughts and God

I have attempted to write a new entry in this blog a few times since April 8.  I have thought about it quite a bit more than that.

I have often envied the consistent writers i observe.  But it seems, that this writer requires times of ... what do you call it ... sequester?  Something like that.

They say bloggers shouldn't blog about blogging, but.  Well, i guess i just don't care.  I'm not here for a popularity contest, but i do hope that sometimes God can use my words to give a laugh, a smile, a thought, a comfort, a peace, a wisdom, or a guffah to those who read it.  Looks like i spelled that wrong....let's see....that's supposed to be a guffaw?  Yes, the lack of squiggly red lines tells me google thinks that's correct.

I think part of my problem isn't really that i don't have anything to say.  It's that i have so many things going on in my mind and my heart and my life, that i can't settle on any one thing long enough to explore it.  Or at least that's how it feels.  And therein lies the paradox.  Since sitting down to write is often the one thing that can help me think about a thing long enough to explore it.  You see my problem?

It's hard to say whether this post will happen.  If it does, you'll know.  If it doesn't, you won't.

I have a few minutes this evening, and a thousand thoughts in my heart, so i thought i'd give this writing thing a shot.

Planet Earth is playing on BBC, so i get to look up now and then and see some of the wonders of God's creation.  In the other room, i can hear the cheep cheep cheep of tiny chickens struggling out of their shells in my incubator.  Since i was thoroughly rained on at 5 o'clock today, and the resulting chill hasn't quite left me, i am snuggled on my couch imagining that it is autumn outside, though this couldn't be further from truth.  It is August in Texas, and though we recently received the miracle of 75 degree weather in the middle of the day, it is certainly not autumn yet.  We will sweat through many more days before my favorite season arrives this year.

Outside my house, in reality, my chick brooder hold 7 little special needs chicks who hatched late and maybe a little lopsided and couldn't be sold, so they get to stay with me.  In the coop, are 22 mostly grown chickens, some old, some just learning to lay eggs, some who don't know they're being fattened up for my freezer.  A recently built smokehouse in my backyard has recently smoked some moderately successful homemade (not homegrown) sausage and will be put to use on more successful attempts in the near future.   A few posts have begun being sunk for expansion of the chicken operation, an electric pole is being installed for expansion of the people operation.  And no, that was definitely not a pregnancy announcement.

For years, my gun-slinging super hero and i have looked forward to the day we would be able to give a home to the children that God has picked out for us to parent, either temporarily or permanently, and we think that we are finally coming to the place in our lives when we will be able to begin the process of finding them.  Step one:  a house with bedrooms.  Very exciting.  And a little scary.  Besides the part about becoming parents, it has been a long time since i have needed to cope with more than one bedroom.  Sounds a little confusing.

No, really.

That wasn't meant to be an announcement of any sort.   These are just some of the things that are on my mind these days.  In addition, my gun-slingin super hero is working further from home these days and now i actually have to think about things like what to cook for dinner.  That takes up more brain space that i remember.  I've been spoiled.  For a while.

But i'm remembering my skills, slowly.  I made some really good chicken and dumplings the other day, and i'm beginning to develop a system for getting my crock pots - yes that's plural - to work for me while i'm sleeping or away.  I have set aside an entire piece of furniture for just crock pots.  They're my new friends.

Here's a deep thought for today.  Earlier, on Planet Earth, there was a scene from the lives of the wonderful Emperor Penguins, wherein bereaved mother penguins whose babies had been lost to the cold, competed in desperation to parent orphaned penguin babies whose parents had been lost the same way.  The urgency to parent was SO strong, the narrator explained in different words and an English accent...

When i saw three bereaved mothers chasing around one cute little penguin baby who wasn't sure what to do about all this attention, i thought about how the drive to parent is strong like this in humans too.  And, of course, i cried.  Because that's pretty tender stuff.  But then i thought about how we're made in God's likeness, and how different elements of our being can be traced back to Him.  And i thought about how much easier it would have been for God to just enjoy the beautiful earth and universe, how much less troublesome an eternity would be for the perfect God, without a lot of rebellious humans mucking up paradise and whatnot.  And how He created us anyway.  And how He loves us intensely.  How the desperate love of a mother for her child, is a reflection of the greater love of God, for us.


Hmm.  Guess this one's going to get posted.