A little chicken scratch

Chickens seem to be the thing this year. For some time now our feathered, egg-laying friends have appeared in art work, baby's hats, bibs and decor for the house. If you love the country or primitive decorating schemes, there is a good chance you have a chicken or rooster somewhere in your house.

This year, the love for chickens has reached new heights. People are now keeping chickens, real chickens, in their backyards because they want fresh eggs. On Etsy yesterday, I found this chicken coop:

Pretty fancy, huh? You can find them at America's Finest Chicken Coops. They even have coops with linoleum flooring. What will they think of next?

I've been amazed by the fact that people are keeping chickens. In eastern cities they even have people who will "chicken sit" for a mere $15 a day if you are away. When we were in Barnes and Noble recently there was a pile of books about keeping chickens. There were also other books about turning your backyard into a productive farm-like area, canning and preserving, and other country almanac type books.

Perhaps if you already live in the country this seems rather silly to you, but for someone who lives in a large city, this is revolutionary since most of the items one would grow or raise are abundantly available in stores. Country folk do this stuff because some items aren't readily available. Out here on the eastern plains of Colorado, some towns are isolated. They are at least 60 miles from the nearest Walmart or Safeway, it makes sense that they would grow things and raise chickens out of necessity.

What I think people are looking for in the cities, however, is  fresh food, and they want to know from where their food comes. I can't blame them. I like to know those things too and there is nothing like eating fresh from your garden. I've never had fresh chicken before. Maybe keeping chickens is something we might want to consider someday. Mike says he can have a coop up for me over the weekend, and he'll show me how to 'prep' them.

All this talk about chickens has a point. This morning while reading Psalm 17, I came upon these verses:

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.

(I bolded the verse that has to do with chickens.)

For protection from his enemies, the Psalmist (David, most likely) asks God to stretch out his wings like a mother hen and protect him from his enemies. It is a touching example.

Since I don't own chickens and therefore do not know their habits I did some research and found this on Wikipedia (not the best place, I know, but this article is accurate):

"The hen will usually stay on the nest for about two days after the first egg hatches, and during this time the newly hatched chicks live off the egg yolk they absorb just before hatching ... After hatching, the hen fiercely guards the chicks, and will brood them when necessary to keep them warm, at first often returning to the nest at night. She leads them to food and water; she will call them to edible items, but seldom feeds them directly. She continues to care for them until they are several weeks old, when she will gradually lose interest and eventually start to lay again."

As you can see, it did not take long to find out why the Psalmist related God's love to a mother hen who "fiercely guards her chicks and will brood ("... to protect by covering with wings ..."- Free Online Dictionary) them when necessary ... "

In Matthew 23: 37, Jesus also uses chickens as an example:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

I have also found an example of this in children's literature. In a book about the childhood of Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Wilders had moved to Missouri and experienced a flood. After the flood when they were looking around to see what could be salvaged, they found a dead hen in the brooding position. Upon lifting up the hen, a brood of little chicks poured out from under her, peeping and calling out. In the midst of great danger the hen had given her life to protect her young. The biblical imagery came to mind immediately. God in his desire to see his creation live abundantly, sent his son Jesus to die on a cross in order to free us from sin. It is like the chicken giving up her life. The little chicks came out from under her wings and went on living in the way their mother taught them to do before she died. Once we as humans accept Christ's sacrifice, we go on living. We live a rich life learning to do and then doing what Jesus taught us. Eventually we will see Jesus, but for now we live in his ways. This results in an abundant life.

Fortunately, unlike the chickens in the Wikipedia article, Christ does not lose interest in us. He does, however, expect us to grow and live like he said we should. And, unlike the little chicks, we never fully grow up completely. Christ will always be there brooding over us and hiding us under his wings when times get rough. All we have to do is ask.

So I hope you've enjoyed my little diddy about chickens today. I wasn't sure why they were on my mind, but now it all seems to come together.