On Faith and Feathered Friends

Saturday morning, my husband Rick and I were on the front porch drinking coffee and talking–porch partying, as we call it. His roosters crowed and all sorts of questions bubbled to the surface.

Rick raises chickens in the backyard.

“Do you really enjoy your chickens?”

He gave me a slightly perturbed look like, How could I not?

“I mean, isn’t it a lot of work? Why do you do it?”‘

“It’s fun. Chickens have different personalities, when you get to know them.”

Sounds like they’re real people–with names and feelings.

“When did you start raising chickens? I don’t remember.”

“Oh, golly. I guess when Thomas was nine.” (Our son Thomas is 24.)

“How many do we have now?”

“Thirteen. I have had 65 at one time.”

I had no idea.

Mostly I’ve ignored them. 

“How many eggs do we get every week?” I never counted. Just sorta took them for granted.

“About a dozen.”

“So, you do it for the eggs?”

“Nope.”

I wasn’t satisfied with his half-answers. There had to a reason.

Did he have an emotional connection with his feathered friends? 

Later that morning, I asked about one of his hens. A few months ago, a fox or a possum attacked her. She survived with a broken wing. I remembered how much he cared about her.

“Come take a look,” he said. “She’s doing fine.”

“Is her wing okay?”

“Good as new. She’s an Araucana and lays colored eggs.”

“She’s beautiful and so are her eggs. What helped her heal?”

“Lots of rest. I separated her from the others. I spent time with her at night after work.”

My heart grew incredibly tender–toward my husband who loves chickens. Click to Tweet. 

“Your hen actually wanted to be with you?”

“Sure she did. It calmed her down. Helped her rest.”

“Do your feathered friends ever teach you anything about life?”

“Of course. We all experience hard times. Cold winters. Rainy seasons. Long hot summers.”

“And broken wings.” I stroked her colored feathers.

“But we don’t give up.”

“You’re a sweet girl. I’m so glad you survived.”

The next morning when the roosters crowed, I smiled. “I know why you do it. You love them.”

He took a long sip of coffee. “Something like that.”

…I have called you friends…John 15:15 (ESV)

What about you? Was there a time when you experienced God’s TLC through a friend–either a person or an animal?

Or a time when you felt compelled to show love? 

Do you understand Rick’s unfailing love for his birds?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Patricia Martin says:

    Rick reminds me of the Biblical good Shepard.(: my mom, Dad, and Gram were all born in the year of the Rooster (Chinese Calander). Colored eggs–they sound exciting–do they taste good? Blessed New Year to you and your family (precious Rilynn). Xoxoxo

    • Very good question, Patricia. The colored eggs don’t taste any different than regular eggs. But I think when the raise chickens and use their eggs, the yolks are a deeper color than store-bought eggs.

      Big hug to your family!

      • K. Richardson says:

        Hi Julie, I read about your husband’s love affair with chickens. They are fun to have around. They even talk back sometimes and those eggs are wonderful! So glad to see his dream come true. Something pretty simple can bring so much happiness. Wish I still lived on a farm and could have chickens too.

        Bless you! K. Richardson

        • So….Kim…..his behavior makes sense to you. 🙂 This makes me smile.

          Thank you, my friend.

          All my love~~~~~
          Me

  2. Anna Haney says:

    How sweet. The image of Rick with this chicken, helping her to heal, really touched me. When my mom was in the nursing home for a couple of months in 2014, pet therapy dogs would come once a week. She loved that. Those patients and the dogs needed one another so desperately.
    Thanks for sharing my friend.

    • Yes, Yes, Anna! I love pet therapy dogs!!! They make such a difference. And they’re always so well behaved, aren’t they. So kind. And they just people people’s heart.

      Hmmm. Maybe we have a pet therapy chicken? 🙂

      So much love, my friend.

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        Therapy pets come in all sorts and sizes, Julie. Think of how your husband feels about his chickens, then about how much seeing one could mean to a farmer or his wife who share his feelings but will spend the rest of their lives in a senior care center. When their trembling hands stroke the feathers, a million memories wash over them, and they feel loved…and remembered.

        Because of my mom’s work with therapy dogs, I’ve seen several other pets become part of this healing ministry, including cats, miniature horses (see: https://www.facebook.com/TherapyHorses/?fref=ts), even pigs and turtles. And not only for seniors. Children in hospitals or other facilities also thrive when brought the healing touch of God’s amazing animals. A purring kitten never fails to bring a smile to whomever cuddles her close.

        My mom just told me the other day about a veteran and his dog who have gone through the training program my mom helped start to train veterans and their dogs to help each other through the tough times of physical and emotional needs after they’re done serving our country (see: https://www.facebook.com/dogtagsprogram/?fref=ts). This particular veteran now wants to start his own service program to other veterans in another area. And the circle of caring keeps going…

        So…maybe this chicken is meant for other things besides beautiful eggs! 😉 Just as you minister to our hearts each week. (I read this post while holding tightly to a stuffed golden retriever puppy our youngest daughter bought me yesterday, tears of grief wetting its fur from missing our golden we lost about a month ago. Silly, but needed at this time.) Love you, Julie. <3

        • Hey again, Cathy.

          And holding a stuffed golden retriever puppy and crying with grief? Not silly at all. But therapeutic–there’s that word again. 🙂

          Yes, I have a couple of friends who write about therapy animals–including horses and police dogs, veterans with their dogs, etc. But pigs and turtles?! Wow!!!!!!!! Sounds like Noah’s ark. 🙂

          Thank you!

  3. Oh. my. word. What a man! That’s what novels are comprised of … that right there. That is the sweetest, one of the most attractive things I’ve ever read. Is that possible? I’m giggling. I hope you can fit that into a novel somehow … 😉 And you look so darling out there on the porch. Do y’all go out on the porch each morning? We have such a nice porch and deck on back … but usually in the summer, you are joined by spider and … creepy crawlers and more. 😉 I don’t use it like I thought I would … and lately, I’ve been ignoring my sheep like you have the chickens. And I feel so guilty about it. They love me … I’ve been a bad sheep mama lately, and Katelyn’s been taking care of them. I need to put myself in time-out. xoxo

    • I thought THAT VERY SAME THING TODAY, Shelli! And the thing is, most of us (at least I didn’t!) don’t have any idea how much the little things matter in a marriage.

      Like, how a man treats his pets.

      It’s NOT the big things…the diamonds, the big trips for me. It’s kindness.

      Yes. We have a porch party every single morning. We’ve been doing it for at least five years?? I think? Totally revolutionized our marriage. We have a few porch party rules like “no nagging, no criticizing, so positive things, try not to discuss the children…”

      I had no idea you have sheep! How did I miss that nugget?

      And I’ve been a bad chicken mama. But it’s a new year–let’s do this together–let’s fall in love with chickens and sheep!

      • Okay, I’m with you, Julie. I’ll do better … and I’ll be praying for you. Yes … I have two sheep. We had two … one got killed … and that nearly killed me. The one couldn’t make it alone … it wanted to be right where I was … and probably terrified from what she had witnessed … her friend/sister getting eaten. (there had been probably a bobcat or mountain lion getting to people’s livestock last year) It’s just awful. So, we had to get another one to be her companion. She’s better, but she doesn’t love the new sheep like she did the other one. And I don’t know … since that disaster, I have a hard time even walking the property where they are … I used to love it … it just broke my heart to find her like that. I know people eat sheep … but they were pets, you know?

        • Julie, here are two places where I’ve written about them. It’s sad. But you can see pics of them.

          http://www.shellilittleton.blogspot.com/2014/11/necessity.html

          http://www.shellilittleton.blogspot.com/2014/12/saved.html

          • Just read them. Oh. My Gosh.

            Shelli, you write with your whole heart, don’t you. And your pictures.

            I’d love to one day walk through your yard and meet all your animals. And of course, your girls too. 🙂

            Thanks again for sharing these with all of us!

            And it just hurts my heart every time I think about little black Bindi.

        • My heart hurts, Shelli.

          Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m remembering this. Maybe I blocked it out b/c it made me so sad.

          Bless her sweet heart. She doesn’t love her new companion like the first one. She’s still grieving.

          Ohhh, I’m feeling it for you. And they were so defenseless.

          I’m so very sorry. I know your girls must’ve had a hard time dealing with it.

          So sorry.

          • Yeah, Julie. And I feel so guilty. I mean … people let their animals graze. You know? They don’t lock their livestock up at night. And we didn’t them. But they always stayed in the barn at night. I know it’s just part of having livestock … and other animals need to eat. But … yeah, so sad. We keep these two locked up every night now. Bless their hearts. But … I’m too afraid to let them out … just during daylight. I don’t think God made me to have cattle … I’d have them all named and couldn’t give any away. 🙂 To have you walk with me … that’d be such a blessing. xoxo

          • Shelli,

            Your heart is so very tender. I think you did your very best. Honestly, I do.

  4. Your rooster is gorgeous! THere’s a small farm on West Price in Sugar Hill (or Suwanee – they blend in places) that has chickens. I love to drive by there and see all the different colors and types. For some reason, that’s always the first displays I want to see at the County Fair…the chickens.

  5. donna says:

    Lovely, soothing blog. Thank you. xo

    • Ohhhhh, thank you.

      “Soothing” is a wonderful word. So glad you felt that way while reading it.

      Much love to you today, Donna.

  6. Julie Gilleand says:

    I remember a time when something so heartbreaking and traumatic happened to me as a teenager. I sat on the edge of the bed in tears. I didn’t know God then. But a lovely yellow kitty cat who belonged to someone else hopped up on the bed and crawled into my lap and nuzzled against my face purring. Oh how I hugged that Kitty as if for dear life. I never forgot how comforting that was — like water on a parched throat. Something I so desperately needed at just that precise time. God knew, even if I didn’t know him. I think back on that from time to time when my own Kitty wants to not only climb into my lap, but also up onto my shoulder. Sometimes I shoo him away not wanting him to shed all over my clothes, but then I remember that yellow kitty from of old and relent, inviting Kitty to perch wherever he wants. As I hold him like a baby over my shoulder, I stroke his fur as he purrs into my ear and nuzzles the side of my face. I feel love in that and I think he needs it too. He’s old and failing and there won’t be many more of these moments. I heard one time that holding a purring cat brings emotional healing. If that’s true I ought to be holding him constantly!

    And then there’s birds — just a couple weeks ago, after a particularly stressful ordeal with my mother, I was on my way to do my grocery shopping but was feeling so upset and wiped out I knew I needed some kind of healing before moving on with my day. After treating myself to a cafe mocha, I stopped into a pet store, just needing to be near some beautiful and precious animals. I’d never done this before. It was a new thought. I talked to the parrots and parakeets, and enjoyed they’re talking back to me (sort of). And it happened to be a day when people could bring their pets for a photo with Santa! So the jolly old man himself was there (how can that not make a person smile?!) and a line full of people with dogs and cats. It was just fun to see. Another tough day, I went to the zoo, someplace I’d not been in years. Just something about being near animals is healing. Well you know, unless it’s a grizzly or something, lol! I love your chickens and love that Rick loves them and cares for them, too.

    By the way — per your last week’s blog — Marci’a and I have decided that if ever we do get that chance to go line dancing together, that you should join us!! Can’t you just picture that?!! I don’t know how it could all come about — but God knows a way, I’m sure!

    God bless! Leafy 🙂

    • Leafy,

      You set the most beautiful scenes. I was there with you, as you were loving on the yellow kitty. And you know…come to think of it, my husband likes to just walk through pet stores and pet shops and just look. Especially at the birds.

      Love your writing–how you have the ability to put us right there with you.

      Yes, of course I’ll go line dancing with you and Marci’a! Let’s us three be praying about it. Wouldn’t it be amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing. And just think of the blog post!!!!!!! I love blogging on friendship–which I believe is rising to my heart for next Wednesday.

      Great big hugs today. So glad this post found a place in your heart.

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        It would be awesome if one day God makes a way for the three of us to do that! Praying 🙂 (And thanks for such nice words about my writing. Means so much!)

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Hello, Leafy Julie! I’m not sure you’ll see this since I’m a day late reading all this (spent the last two days as our expectant daughter’s house! Only 4 weeks to go!!). Just a thought, since you seem to have “the touch” and know the encouragement and love animals give us. Maybe getting involved in a pet therapy program would bless you and certainly the people you go to see. Your kitty sounds purr-fect for it! You can share the love you feel from her warmth close to your heart (and the top of your head, it sounds like – I had a cat like that as a teen!) I replied to a comment above about therapy pet programs. Search one out in your area…or just contact a local senior center to see about taking your kitty in! Like I said, just a thought…

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        Sounds like something I’d love to do Cathy if I had the chance. Sadly my kitty is 15 years old and not in good health. He is also very skittish around other people he doesn’t know. So that wouldn’t work for him. And my working full-time plus taking care of my mother on weekends doesn’t allow for much free time to offer to that sort of thing, but maybe one day. We’d like to have a dog one day. I’ve never had one and my husband would like to. We wouldn’t do it while Kitty is still with us and probably not as long as we live in an apartment, but it would be awesome to be involved with a pet therapy ministry. There is a nursing home right down the street from me and it is where my dad was before he died. It would be someplace I’d love to take a dog to visit people. So we’ll see what God has in store. Thanks for planting the idea!

      • Great idea, Cathy!!!!

  7. After reading your words, I’m reflecting on what parts of my husband’s life I may be somewhat not tuned into? I’m also taken back to our time living in Idaho where we lived in a very residential area, but a rooster woke us early each morning who lived several blocks away from us. There was no zoning, so you could have horses, chickens, roosters, what have you, wherever you had space enough to house them in town!

    I love seeing that nurturing side of your husband. We’ve nicknamed our dog, Crosby, therapy- he such a gentle and compassionate soul- lots of tlc for all of us from him!

    • I know, Vicky–those parts about our husbands that we somehow overlook–the quiet hobbies they enjoy that we don’t see–at least for quite a few years.

      I asked him all about roosters and living in a neighborhood. He said some have covenant rules that say, “No poultry.” But he said usually, you can get away with a hen or two. We live way back in the woods so I don’t think our roosters bother anyone. At least, I hope not!

      Sweet animals are just good for the soul. Like your Crosby. xo

  8. I understand Rick so much! I am always out trying to help a pet, stray cat or a neighbor’s chickens get out of trouble. I’ve been seen waving my arms and yelling up in the sky trying to scare the hawks away. 🙂 I feel for them, helpless as they are at times.

    Which is how God looks at us too. When we are in trouble or have been hurt, He is always there through prayer and His word to calm and heal us.

    Touching post, dear friend. xxoo

    • Such a great spiritual analogy, Eileen!! Yes! Yes! how God looks at us when we’re hurt, tenderly taking us in His arms (when we’ll let Him).

      I can just see you yelling at the sky scaring the hawks away. Such a vivid picture in my mind.

      Thank you my friend.

  9. Kim says:

    I know this doesn’t really have much to do with what all you wrote, but what stood out to me was the short verse you tacked on toward the end. I had to smile because it’s from John.

    Last year our priest challenged us to read through the New Testament. I did it and I want to stay reading regularly. As 2016 approached, I decided I would just pick a book and begin. I decided on John. I have no idea why, but I did. Since then though, I have been saturated with John references. Obviously I am supposed to be reading and dwelling in the book of John.

    • I LOVE the book of John, Kim.

      So glad that somehow this verse spoke to you. I’m glad I added it. I just love knowing that Jesus calls us His friends. Wow. Being one of His friends.

      Thank you so much for commenting.

  10. good grief…why am I crying??? I love that Ricky loves his chickens. And YES! I totally understand it. When we finally got Reba-the-Cat (who was crazy and feral )to a mobile vet to be spayed, I sat with her for hours, she was still in the garage then because she was a stray and terrified of the indoors. I’d sit there on a big dog bed right next to her and read my book with one hand touching her back every once in a while…she and I are best buds now and she sleeps on 1/2 my pillow…I fear if we had chickens, they’d be inside the house before it was all said and done 🙂 love this story xo (but how could you not know he once had 65 chickens???? I bet Debra knew! 🙂 )

    • Ohhh, Robin. You’re crying…..

      The two of you are alike in unusual ways–your undying love for animals, and your foods??? I think you both don’t like for you foods to touch on the plate? Or something like that.

      I know–65 chickens and I HAD NO IDEA. There’s some sort of a chicken show coming up that he keeps talking about. This morning he said he needs to tell Debra about it.

      Whatever the animal lovin’ gene is, you three have it! And I’m in total awe.

  11. marci says:

    Oh, Julie, I think our husbands are related! Love of animals. Having chickens. Years ago– chickens were eating the cats food.. He was going to shoo them away. Our daughter, smiled, and said, “Yeah, .. he’s going to start buying food for them.” And he did! He was buying corn, chops and laying feed for them. They came from a house near us. The people moved off, and left the chickens. They are free-range and they have continued to be. Chas gets eggs from them, but it started out more like an Easter egg hunt. He looked in the grass, or anywhere they may have laid. They don’t lay much in the winter. They also love to hatch peeps. We went from a few to quite a few, and now we don’t have as many– but enough. When they are laying we can get a dozen eggs a day.

    I have seen the animals as more of Chas’ thing than mine, though I get pressed into service at times. I am glad to have such a caring husband, and daughter. Though I did not chose to have so many animals, God does give many lessons through them.
    I have learned a lot about chickens since having these, even though I had had pet chickens as a child. I never knew that they were so good at flying. And they really do have a pecking order. My biggest concern when we face flood danger, is for their safety. And how to care for them during such times. I pray a lot. And hope we do not face flooding.

    Thank you Julie for this blog that hits so close to home for me. And I am still thinking about your last week one about Dancing.. and pondering it. You always give us something to think about.

    God Bless!

    • For sure, Marci’a. God teaches us through animals. And tenderizes our hearts as we love them. Love how your daughter and hubby sort of adopted the chickens. 🙂

      Okay. This is going to sound dumb….but I didn’t know chickens fly. They do??? I had no idea. Are you teasing me?

      I’m sure the flooding is a serious danger for them–something I’d never considered. Maybe they can get to higher ground? Some how? Some way?

      Yeah, the word DANCE. I’m starting my prayer journal that way every day. And adding an exclamation point. DANCE!!!

      xo

      • marci says:

        No kidding, and I was as surprised as you to find that out–Our chickens have even flown onto the roof. And into trees. I don’t think they can fly very far or like other birds, and I don’t know about them being able to swim? I would not want to test that out… but while in Hot Springs I did see some DANCE! Miranda has chickens she bought as eggs and hatched out. They are big and pets but she was getting a lot of eggs. Now they are old, so they don’t lay much. Hers are very protected with a shed to get in, and a yard to be out in with a top to protect from hawks. We do have to be concerned about hawks and some other things. I love the beauty of the roosters, don’t you? They are so colorful. All our roosters look alike but the hens are different. Some are honey, some are dark brown and some are dark gray/black.

        Yes, what a good thing, to start each day thinking Dance! Your word has certainly been speaking to me.
        God Bless

        • Oh, yes. Roosters are gorgeous. And I can’t wait to tell my husband tonight about chickens flying!! Which, he probably already knows.

          And even dancing. I love it!

          So glad my word is talking to you. Me too!

  12. Marjorie Hill says:

    Thank you, Julie. Such a Biblical truth. I heard one pastor say that all of life illustrates Biblical Truth if we well only look for it. Thanks for taking the time to share…you and your husband.

    • Margie, I’m beginning to understand that’s how God made me–to find Him in the most obscure ways and places. Even in our backyard chickens.

      THANK YOU.

  13. As one or should I say two country folks who love chickens, this was so heartwarming, and indeed understand your DH’s love for them! We too have chickens and have had them since early in our marriage, my love of these fine feathered friends came from my dear grandmother Iola! But like your husband Rick, my Dh tends to their needs, I enjoy gathering the eggs, and cooking with them.~smile~
    We have a few animals on our farm, and I must say have taught us many lessons about life!

    I loved your porch parties, and had to grin real big, as DH and I too have such parties, we call our “Porch Sitting” This is where we have most morning devotions, but have to admit that when the weather gets very cold, ours moves indoors!~smile~ My hat is off to you and Rick for bundling up and continuing yours! Now if I can just get my Farmer Boy to bundle, and build me a fire, I would have it made!
    Thanks for always inspiring me!.
    Blessings,
    Sue

    • Sue, what a wonderful response. I’m sitting here smiling, feeling like you and I are having our very own porch party. Wouldn’t it be fun!!!

      Now….if we only had one of those little pretend chimneys, what are they called, chiminea? to go on our porch to keep us warm.

      Loved reading your thoughts, my friend.

  14. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Since I replied to two of the comments above, I’ll just tack on a short prayer request. We also have a porch, albeit one which needs clearing/fixing. But it faces the creek and the forest…soooo perfect for two married people who love the outdoors but can no longer take advantage of its thrills by hiking to mountaintops and vacationing at a childhood cabin. The prayer need is two-fold, physical and emotional/spiritual: to find a way to clear it and fix it up and for my husband to want to spend that time with me… Well, I guess it’s three-fold; we also need to find the time, because PA weather can be a bit more severe than Georgia (negative wind-chills yesterday), and he leaves for work at 6 a.m. But, oh, how my heart longs to spend time like this with him…especially if we could have the rule of no negativity, no criticism…just the peace of nature and knowing he’s still at my side…

    • You got it, Cathy! I’m praying. And I’m EXCITED to be praying this way for you.

      I’m telling you–having porch parties has revolutionized our marriage. I’m praying for creativity to come to the two of you to bring it into being! I believe He’ll do it.

      Take pictures for us. Please!!!! This is gonna be soooooooooooooooo wonderful!!!

      Maybe with a space heater on the cold, cold mornings?

      Hugging you from here.

  15. Mary says:

    I befriended a tiny cat many years ago. I assumed she belonged to someone because she was so plump… and then I learned she was an abandonded cat, about to have kittens! I kept her. She was so timid and skittish – she must have been mistreated in the past. I felt so responsible and protective of her! It helped me, having something to care for. And it took years — really, YEARS — to fully earn her trust.

    When I started dating the man who was to become my husband, he took it as a special mission to win the cat’s heart, because he knew I loved her. He was so patient and kind – and of course, he won her over very quickly. (He says I married him because my cat approved of him!) It gave me a glimpse of how kind-hearted he was. And still is!

    We had that cat almost 20 years. Funny, I thought I was rescuing HER… but in the end, she was the one who rescued me. Having an animal to care for taught me about patience and how love can wear down the rough edges of fear, creating something beautiful. So grateful for that little animal!

    • Marrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry, this is a beautiful love story!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I love how God brought you two together through a precious kitty. A pregnant precious kitty.

      Did you read my friend Robin’s comment above? She saved a feral kitty named Reba. Another love story. I bet you and Robin would love meeting each other.

      Thank You, Lord for all the animals. They teach us how to love each other.

  16. “Something like that,” said Rick.

    Love his honesty. Love your probing. Our men don’t often give up answers willingly to questions they undoubtedly never even thought about. What a concept…to think about such things like you do. And what a loving guy, to indulge you with answers to your questions even in the cold, dark, early morning on the porch.

    Love you both!

    • Hey, B.J.

      What I didn’t tell in this blog, was that I could feel a story moving around in my heart–you know what I mean? I raced inside yelling, “Don’t say anything else. This is good. I’m getting my laptop and you won’t have to say it twice.”

      And he let me type his words.

      True Love.

      Love you!!!!!!!! Smiling right now, just thinking about you.

  17. You are blessed to have a loving husband, Julie!

  18. Oh, Julie, I love hearing about your porch parties with your husband. I totally get going out to the porch on warm spring, summer, and even early fall mornings…but in the WINTER??? YIKES!

    Thank you for always pointing me to beautiful truth. I always need to hear it. 🙂

    • Yes, absolutely in the winter, Vonda. And you already have the spirit of adventure!! You just bundle up real good.

      You’ll love it. You’ll be fine and your husband will be so impressed with you! You’ll feel sort of like a frontier woman on a journey with your man!

      Post a pic when you do it. I want to see~~~~

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