LEAVING THE CHICKEN HOUSE

By Lisa Huddleston

Here in Tennessee we are experiencing a rare time of ice and snow, and everywhere I look I see a picture-worthy scene–as those of you who follow my Instagram and Facebook accounts can attest. Sorry for the overload, but there is just too much beauty to keep it to myself. I see that others of you feel the same, and I’ve been enjoying your pictures of snow angels, icicles, sledding, and cozy food!

"What's this white stuff?"

“What’s this white stuff?”

Of course, along with all this loveliness comes the stress and worry of interrupted schedules and dangerous travels.

My musician son who was anxious to head home Monday to finally celebrate Valentine’s Day with his sweetheart has been stuck in Dallas. Naturally, he’s not too happy. Also, there have been countless accidents on slick roads, people have been without power, and some of us are just plain stir crazy (I won’t say who–COUGH COUGH). Even the chickens are freaked out and had to be coaxed with treats to step onto the new white carpet in their yard!

Venturing out.

Venturing out.

This unusual wintry event–and our chicken chickens–have got me thinking about an insight my daughter recently shared. She works at a rehab center where she gets to know many elderly patients, and one thing she has recognized is that everyone is going through whatever stage of life he or she is in for the very first time. Sarah says that reminds her to be more patient with people–some of us just handle change better than others. That’s kind, deep, and very true. And it makes me think.

Some of us see fresh-fallen snow and want to make angels; others of us envision every potential slip and risk and decide to hunker down for the duration. As usual, balance is best, and I’m reminded to try harder to see both sides as well as to give those who can’t just a little more grace.

Good stuff to ponder on a cold, wintry day as I sit by the fire sipping from a hot cup and listening to the dog snore.

Baruch haShem!

“WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”

Better days before the exile.

Better days before the exile.

By Lisa Huddleston

If you’re too young to remember the quote I’ve used for this post’s title then … what are you doing reading a blog about Intentional Living in the Second Half? That’s okay. You young folks know how to Google it and learn whatever you want to, and the origins of the title aren’t really what this post’s about anyway.

Today’s topic is chickens, farm life, and getting along–or not getting along. Sort of.

I’d done the research. I’d read about pecking orders and bossy roosters and all that; but for some goofy reason, I just didn’t expect my chickens to act like that. But true to their chicken natures, they do act just like that. They act like chickens!

I know. No big surprise there. Dogs act like dogs. Cats act like cats. People act like people. Of course, even my chickens would act like chickens. But they grew up together! They shared the same box in my basement. They huddled together until the same warming light. How could they turn on each other like they have?

The trouble started when the crowing started. Yes, it turns out that three of our 12 fluffy chicks were actually roosters in disguise! Who knew? And with the crowing came the pecking. Not little love pecks but hard, “I Want to Kill YOU!” pecks.

And so, one by one, the roosters have been relocated. Goldie was lucky–he found a great home with a sweet little family and four lovely little hens. He is free ranging the good life today.

The battle field--looks so serene, doesn't it?

The battle field–looks so serene, doesn’t it?

However, two days ago, there was a cock fight of epic proportions in the hen yard and poor ol’ J.P. (short for “Jurassic Park” because he looked like one of those creepy long-legged dinosaurs in that movie when he was younger) lost. He is recuperating in a large dog crate with a load of Neosporin gobbed on top of his wounded head, and Lovie Dove, a terrible misnomer if ever there was one, has been given to a long-time resident of our rural community who “buys, sells, and trades” chickens. Let’s just say, Goldie won the prize for sure!

Now it is just the ladies until J.P. can make his return, and already I see those girls jockeying for the top spot. Speedy seems to be making a real play for it, but Henny Penny will definitely give her a run for her money. Even Liesel and Hootie were giving it a go at being Queen for the Day.

And all I can think is, “Why can’t we all just get along?” But that is not the way of chickens nor is it the way of the world.

Gladly I was reading in the book of Isaiah this morning, and that good book reminded me that the way it is is not the way it will always be. One day:

The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,

the young child will put his hand

into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the

knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

(Isaiah 11:6-9)

One day there will be peace. And a little child will lead us all. Hallelujah.

“THE SKY IS FALLING,” AT LEAST I THINK SO

Doctor and chicken farmer!

Doctor and chicken farmer!

by Lisa Huddleston

The chicks, or “peeps” as Chuck likes to call them, are here. Twelve little beauties that we hope are mainly girls, but only time will tell. Right now they all look roughly similar in size, but their colors and personalities are already evidence of their coming differences. It’s hilarious to watch them run around examining everything they can get their beaks on–including one another. We noticed one is especially bossy and often runs right over the backs of the others. Another one is the loudest, constantly “peeping” her (or hopefully not his) little head off in either delight or complaint, “The sky is falling!” It all sounds about the same to us right now.

Not too surprisingly, I have already made connections between my little flock and my #LentChallenge reading. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us much about the variety found in the body of Christ. Each of us gifted in different ways but all for the glory of the same God.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! … He decides who gets what, and when. (12:4-11)

Really into her food--I can relate!

Really into her food–I can relate!

Some of the peeps’ traits are already on full display; others will show up as they mature. Likewise, some of us are currently fully displaying the gifts God has given us through his Spirit, and God is receiving all the glory; others of us have yet to discover and/or take the steps to reveal our true colors. Truly God decides what and when! But it is our responsibility to be true to who we are, to be what he has gifted us to be: wise counselors, compassionate healers, proclaimers of truth, clear-sighted visionaries, confident teachers, and so on. Just like the peeps, we need to give less thought to what we should be and more action to who we really are.

Peep!

STARING AT GOATS

Baaaaaaad idea? Hope not.

Baaaaaaad idea? Hope not.

By Lisa Huddleston

Sometimes weird stuff happens. And sometimes we think these weird things are signs from God. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren’t. And sometimes we just aren’t sure.

Last Saturday Chuck and I decided to ride part of the course for the Bike Ride Across Wilson County (BRAWC) which is coming up very soon. It would help us get better prepared and calm our nerves a little. We parked our car at the Mormon-Church-That-Looks-Baptist that is situated right next to the Wilson County Fair Grounds and decided to ride out for 10 miles before turning around.

It was a relatively cool day, and the ride was going really well; but when we reached 10 miles, we found ourselves at an awkward turn-around spot with three barking dogs in the road and a yelling man on the porch. Maneuvering around the hounds, we decided to ride one more mile then stop and split a candy bar and drink some water before heading back passed the dogs who we hoped would be inside when we returned.

It seemed like a good plan so we pedaled on a short bit and stopped at exactly 11 miles. There was a gravel driveway on the right side of the road, and we pulled off there to share our Payday.

(Okay, here is where you need a little background information. Chuck and I have been considering starting a “Backyard Barnyard.” He wants chickens, and I think I want goats. He has fond memories of collecting eggs at his grandmother’s house, and I just have always loved goats. Okay … back to Saturday’s tale.)

As we unpacked our “picnic” we looked into the pasture right in front of us and saw about 100 goats of different varieties. We chuckled about its being a sign, and then we heard a voice beckoning us to come on up the driveway to get a better look. The woman calling us was very friendly and hospitable, and she offered to show us around her little farm. She introduced us to the different breeds she kept and called each animal by name. She showed us her milking stands and a momma with a brand new kid in the shed. So adorable! She also had a big chicken house, pigs, and Great Pyrenees dogs. It was such fun petting the goats and peppering our new friend with questions. We were totally astounded by our good luck!

On the ride home we kept remarking on how unbelievable it was to have landed where we did. And how friendly the farmer was. And how cute the goats were. And it almost seemed like a sign. And on and on.

But does that make it more than a weird coincidence? I don’t know. Probably not … but maybe so? I have to say that I am a little scared about entering into this little venture. I grew up in the burbs. I only saw barnyard animals when we took field trips from school. But if fear rules, then I will miss out on a lot of good stuff. And as I wrote about in my last post, perfectionism is paralyzing. Will we make mistakes? Sure we will. Will things get messy at times? Sure they will. But will we learn a lot–maybe some important things that God wants us to know? I’m pretty sure we will.

Chickens and goats. Who knew? Life’s an interesting trip, and we never know what’s just one more mile down the road. But God does, and He’s already there saying, “Would you like to get a closer look?”