If you were to pull into my driveway, you would almost certainly be greeted by the sound of a goose honking, wings fully spanned, as our back yard flock of chickens ran to the fence to see what you were (obviously) bringing them to eat, because feeding them is the only reason you could be visiting our house.
In the Spring of 2016, we mail ordered something like 26 chickens to come live at our house. A month later, we added 5 more babies, a gosling, and a surprise duck because at that point, why the heck not?
Since then we’ve lost some due to mail-order-shock and predators and our beloved duck to an illness or unknown chocking hazard. May you rest in peace, Jelly.
The very first day I was responsible for caring for all of these fowl on my own, 3 or 4 died. What started in the morning as me literally not even knowing how to catch them and get them out of their brooder to spend some time out in the grass became a day where, after pulling in the driveway from doing a kid drop off, 21 chickens were scattered across my ENTIRE yard and I caught and rescued all but 2 myself while one toddler cheered me on and a baby screamed in her car seat.
Since that day, we’ve been no strangers to chickens being out of their fence. Our kids do a great job of rallying up the little on-the-loose birdies and getting them back to their home.
On Chicken Fences, Predators, and Faith
Our chickens have a lot of jobs – they are garbage disposals with feathers, they are compost factories, they lay eggs, and they till up the garden.
They also teach us and our kids a lot. Our kids are learning about animals and caring for them, collecting eggs and selling them for a little business.
And they are teaching us about faith.
One day, as we drove into our driveway, greeted by the normal honking and mass rush to the fence, we noticed there were several chickens in the yard.
My son, who was tired, was not looking forward to catching them and then getting all washed up before he could have a snack. So he asked:
Mom, why won’t those chickens just stay in their fence? Why do they keep getting out?
Listen, I am about 1% farmer but I try to help where I’m asked and rally the troops to do their jobs. But y’all, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THOSE CHICKENS WILL NOT STAY IN THEIR FENCE.
But in one of those parenting super moments powered only by grace and the Holy Spirit, I said this:
Ya know, buddy, it’s so frustrating that those chickens keep getting out, isn’t it? Here we are, their family, who loves them, feeds them, gives them water, and all they want to do is get out in the yard. They think that fence is a barrier, keeping them from the best that our yard has to offer. But what we know because we can see the entire yard is that we are keeping them safe. We’re keeping them safe from animals who want to eat them and things that they shouldn’t eat. We’re protecting them and loving them and they think we don’t love them.
Do you guys see how that’s the same thing we do with God? He gives us fences and boundaries and all we see from our tiny little vantage point is that it looks like there’s something better, something more OUTSIDE of the fence, when really the fence is there to protect us. He loves us so much that he doesn’t want us to get eaten or to eat something we shouldn’t. We think He doesn’t love us if we can’t have everything we want but really it’s because God loves us that we don’t get everything we want. God gives us boundaries because He loves us and because we can’t see everything that’s out there.
When I was a kid, my cousins lived on a farm and I wanted to live on a farm so badly. It’s a kid’s dream world to have a farm in their back yard. But I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d have a farm in our backyard. Like I said before I’m about 1% farmer but really excited for everyone and what we’re learning and doing.
Our farm is teaching us more than farming.
And I’m so glad it is.