Lessons I learned from a Chicken

Over the last two years, we have acquired a small flock of chickens—the first ten we bought at the feed store as chicks. We lost three to random wild animal attacks last summer. Last fall, we found four chickens abandoned on the side of the road, just left there in the woods to be eaten by a wild animal. We brought them home and nursed them back to full health. That means we gave them a safe and secure place to live, and nature did the rest. We also acquired a rooster from my older daughter. He and the dominant hen were fighting. He is the sweetest and most gentle rooster I have ever met. He will carefully take food from your fingers.

A few weeks ago, a fox attacked our flock. We lost one to the fox, and several others were slightly traumatized. The one that was traumatized, and hurt a little, was Pidge. She spent most of the first few days hiding in the coop or under it. Then she would wander around the yard and not leave to go forage with the others. Finally, she headed out into the world with the rest of the chickens. But she always kept her head tucked in tight. She had no discernable neck whatsoever.

Slowly over the last few days, I have been seeing her stretch out her neck to its full length. Today she seemed almost back to normal. She was even in the rogue group that escapes over the fence before the others are released.

Watching her this morning as I made my way from my tiny house to the main house, I thought about fear and how hard it is to overcome it and return to a healthy life. Though she is out and about, Pidge is also very aware of her surroundings. I used to go out and do more things when I was younger. I traveled and had adventures regularly. When I think back, what I see is how much fear I had while I was doing those things.

Someone once commented on how I could hear and understand the announcements over the intercom at the airport. Or how I knew exactly where I was going or how I always had a map. I always have a plan. Because the truth is, I am afraid, a lot. It has taken me a long time to regain my trust in my safety. All that is happening in the world has caused me to pull my neck back in and hide in my shoulders. I do go out to the grocery store and get my prescriptions filled. But I always have a plan.

I don’t know what plan Pidge might have, other than to stick close to one of the other hens or the rooster. I do know that my plan involves being careful and knowledgeable. It also means that I find ways to reach outside of myself and find ways that I can positively affect others. I write more letters now than I did before. I try to send mail to people I know are by themselves or might just need to know that someone is thinking about them. Everyone can find ways to reach out and help others and still stay safe.

We just need to find and maintain ways to keep in touch, support, and not hide in our shoulders.

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