3 Life Lessons I’m (trying!) to learn from my chickens


Well, just like that, our flock is over a year old!  Time has turned these little chicks into full-blown hens.  I still love watching them peck around their enclosure, preferably from the comfort of the hammock I’ve hung in a nearby grove of trees.  Chickens are goofy little creatures, but — being the analytical person I am — I see some life lessons in their silliness

  1. Don’t invent problems.

If there’s one thing my gals love, its drama, drama, drama!  They complain constantly, clucking, flapping, squawking.  It’s like The Bachelor rose ceremony meets the Real House Wives of Wherever meets a college sorority all day every day.

Right now, two of my ladies are broody, which — for you non-chicken-people — basically means they are trying to hatch imaginary eggs.  Yep.  They’re literally sitting on nothing but hay.  This, they would have me know, is difficult work and requires extra complaining, clucking, flapping, and squawking, not to mention feather ruffling and the occasional peck-of-the-hand-that-feeds-them.  Not exactly a tower of brains, my sweet gals.

That got me thinking: I tend to over analyze and obsess about problems as imaginary as the eggs my girls are trying in vain to hatch.  I’ve wasted countless hours worrying over things that never materialize into real problems.  The funny thing about inventing problems to worry over it makes everything worse and doesn’t make anything better.  As Jesus said in The Sermon on the Mount, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27).  Indeed.  Sitting grumpily on an empty nest isn’t going to hatch a chicken!

2. Stick with the Flock.

Despite their pension for drama, my hens are loyal — almost to a fault.  Whether they’re eating food scraps I’ve tossed in the pen, sunning themselves in our grass clippings, or free-ranging in the yard, they’re in it together.  Oh yes, they might squabble and bicker like siblings, but they stick by each other’s side.  This provides protection from raccoons, eagles, and other potential predators.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I (and others, I’m sure) get overwhelmed, stressed, or sad, I tend to retreat from my flock.  After all, I’m an introvert, so I need solitude to rejuvenate my energy.  However, I think that there is power in the flock as well.  Not one of my gals is going to let her best friends fly the coop alone.  Instead, they back each other up.  A good flock of human friends does that as well: they can keep you from making rash decisions, prop you up when you’re falling apart, and celebrate your successes.

3. Pay attention.

As aforementioned, my flock isn’t headed for Yale.   Nope.  In fact, they’re downright stupid.  (Don’t tell them, though.  It will hurt their feelings!) However, a significant amount of their stupidity stems from one personality (species?) flaw: they don’t pay attention.  They wander outside their enclosure and — even though the gate is wide open — they won’t know how to get back into their pen.  Why can’t they just find the gate?  They’re far too busy looking at the ground, the sky, the fence — anywhere besides actually looking at the gate.  I have even walked through the gate in a vain attempt to show them how to get back home, but because they’re totally self-absorbed, they just don’t get it.

It’s also human nature to get so caught up in personal business that we don’t notice our surroundings, especially the people who are hurting among us.  I’m trying to make it my mission to pay attention so that I notice when friends (or the stranger I’m standing behind in the grocery store line) could use a word of encouragement or even just a smile.  Chickens don’t do that — because they can’t smile.  Or talk.  And they don’t pay attention to anyone or anything but themselves.

Happy belated birthday, Groen Family Flock!







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