“It was the day before Christmas and all through the house, only the Church Girl was stirring, getting on her cream blouse. For wool pants she got on (with leopard heels) she did search, which were warm enough to get her on her way to the church.
“She walked out to the very first snow of the year, and flustered, scraped ice off her car till t’was clear…”
I am clearly NOT a poet.
We got our first snow in the Midwest on Christmas Eve. It was beautiful and made me excited that Christmas was coming. When I awoke at 5:45 to get ready, I looked out the windows and almost did a happy dance! Church Girl may live in the Midwest now but she grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming where there is A LOT of snow every winter.
At every single one of three church services, people remarked how lovely the snow was, how it made it seem more like Christmas with fluffy white crystals covering the ground, trees and houses.
My heart sang.
Church Girl loves a white Christmas.
When I left for church that morning to work, I asked the Elder to help with the chickens. “No problem,” was his answer.
Well, there WAS a problem.
He just didn’t know it yet.
The girls adamantly REFUSED to come out of their coop all day.
Apparently, the ladies decided it was just too cold. Which is pretty funny because they’re chickens. They wear down coats, right? They refused to come out into the snow.
What’s one day, right? I figured it wasn’t that big of a deal if they were fasting for Jesus on Christmas Eve. They’re good Christ-following hens (well, except for evil Cleo and maybe naughty Greta) who just wanted to observe a day of quiet introspection about the birth of their Lord and Savior.
I respected that.
Christmas Day dawned. It was a crisp morning, full of expectation and stark winter beauty.
Before kids and the Elder got up, I began my daily chores involving coffee, a teacup poodle and the girls. As I slipped on my backyard boots, I looked at the temperature. 20 degrees. It was chilly. I added a scarf to the jacket and braved the weather.
Announcing my presence, I called out, “Good MOR-ning, Merry CHRIST-mas, Ladies! It’s a beautiful day today!” I walked across the yard to the blue-doored coop, opened it and looked in to see seven hens on roosts that were in no hurry to leave.
You could tell. It was in their little golden-brown eyes and the way they were hunkered down keeping their bare feet toasty. And as I spoke to them, I saw them digging in, not willing to believe me that it truly WAS a beautiful day.
As I animatedly explained that it was the day we celebrate birth of Jesus, I watched their eyes glaze over, much like when I begin to speak to my kids about eating healthy or getting exercise or brushing their teeth. Was it their low blood sugar and lack of water from the previous day that was keeping them from being as excited as me about the Christmas Story?
Chickens can go a few days without feed but not very long without water, especially in winter. They can become extremely stressed and stop laying. There can be long-term effects, too, like sickness and lowered immunity and in winter, there is the risk of frostbite. None of this is good for a small, backyard flock like mine. (For more on backyard chicken stress from my friends at Hobby Farms, click HERE.)
I went back into the house and thought about it as I made my second cup of coffee. Hedy, my tiniest, most frail girl, was on my mind.
The Elder came down and I told him the girls were not coming out again. He suggested frozen blueberries. “They love blueberries!” After defrosting the berries, I added some oatmeal to the order (a Christmas Day tradition for our flock!) and presented it on a royal blue plastic platter. Each girl had her own scoop.
Hedy actually looked the most interested when I went out to the coop again. (Did she really, or was I projecting my feelings onto her, personifying this little bird?) She was the one I was most concerned about, so I picked her up and brought her out to the blueberry-oatmeal concoction. She observed it with her one good eye (she’s blind in the other) and with a sideward glance at me, looked quizzically cockeyed. Silkie, my white fluffy-butted chowhound, heard there was an indoor treat to be had, hopped out of her spot and bounded across the yard in a beeline for me. (Snow? What snow?!)
That’s all it took to start a mini-stampede…one soul–Hedy. And once Silkie got there, Hedy began eating with gusto. Sometimes, it just takes another chicken eating in the food bowl to prime the pump of one that’s reluctant.
Out popped Mimi, my black australorp, and Cleo, my Egyptian. There was a frenzy. The platter was finished in no time and I had to go back and get more.
What’s really amazing is that later on Christmas Day, there was a beautiful light brown egg in the nest that Mimi had laid. The stress of not eating Christmas Eve hadn’t affected her. She still made her offering to Baby Jesus on the day of His birth…
In a way, it reminds me of the Woman at the Well. She was one soul who turned the tide for others to know Jesus and receive Living Water from Him in her little Samarian town of Sychar. (see John 4:1-45) At the well that day, she was the one by herself, the outcast who was a lot like my blinded and lame, bottom-of-the-pecking-order hen, Hedy. But because she was there first, she paved the way for others to stampede to Jesus and come into an intimate, personal relationship with Him.
Okay, so this was a really chillaxed post…we needed something a little silly and a little funny to post after the flurry of Christmas prep and execution. Enjoy your family this season but more importantly, I truly pray that you were able to see #JesusInEverything through it all. ~TCGW