Time has caused her steps to slow. Her grown offspring are strong and independent. She’s lived through trauma and experienced late-blooming joy. Spring is in her heart even though it is the December of her life. She’s outlived all her peers and gained the status of matriarch. She is still productive, influential and compassionate.
I hope she views her life with a sense of accomplishment.
Her name is Ginger and she is our pet hen, a Buff Orphington of noble distinction.
Nine years ago, we decided to adopt chickens. Morgan was six and Olivia, three. The girls and their dad fenced in an area of our backyard and built a hen house. We painted it egg-yolk yellow, stenciled ivy around the doorway and tacked up a sign that said “Home Sweet Home.” We eagerly attended a local Chicken Swap and came home with four young hens, one for each family member.
Ginger, Rapunzel, Scarlet and Esme were welcomed into their new home. They quickly became pets and the source of countless home-school projects. They modeled for Olivia’s art classes and served as topics for creative writing and storytelling. Morgan collected and counted eggs every day. She turned the data into monthly bar graphs so that she could analyze and pinpoint the highest months of egg production. The girls learned to scramble and fry eggs to perfection. They gained responsible behaviors by caring for the hens.
After several years of chicken bliss, tragedy struck one night when an opossum infiltrated the hen enclosure. Rapunzel valiantly fought off the attacker, saving the flock, but incurred a serious wound which later took her life. She was given a heroes’ burial and was mourned by all. Years later, Scarlet succumbed to an illness, and was interred in the chicken burial grounds at the edge of the meadow.
We added four more young hens to our diminishing little flock. Ginger and Esme outlived them all except one, Celeste, a spunky Rhode Island Red.
Last year, sweet Esme died of old age, leaving Ginger and Celeste, her young apprentice.
As time went on, it became clear that although the hen yard was nice, Ginger and Celeste yearned for freedom. Knowing that unfortunate consequences were possible, but understanding the need to roam, we let them out at selected times of the day. They seemed happier than ever before.
However, in 2016, a week before Christmas, tragedy struck again. A stray dog wandered into the yard and grabbed Ginger. The attack left her with a gaping hole on her back. Having witnessed the event, the girls were horrified. I cradled Ginger in my arms as Brian and I inspected the damage.
The wound was bigger than the size of my hand. Feathers, skin and muscle had been ripped away. Bone protruded in one place.
“Please mama, let’s try to help her,” the girls begged.
Brian and I looked at each other. Neither of us wanted her to suffer.
Survival seemed unlikely; yet Ginger remained calm and trusting in my arms.
We finally agreed to give her a chance. The garden shed became her hospital. We sprayed the wound with antiseptic and put her in a box full of straw. Morgan appointed herself head nurse. She cared for Ginger over the next few days, applying iodine to her wound, syringing water into her beak and trying to feed her cornmeal mash. The girls took turns sitting with her.
The next few days were not encouraging. Brian and I thought we would have to make a hard decision.
Christmas morning dawned and Ginger’s first check-up revealed that she had turned a corner during the night! Her wound was beginning to heal and showed no sign of infection. Best of all, she was finally hungry.
The girls had been praying, with beautiful faith, for Ginger’s recovery. Without a doubt, they will always remember the Christmas God gave them a little miracle!
Ginger has since made a full recovery. Within 6 months, the protruding bone had settled back in, flesh and skin regrew and her feathers came back completely. Her life had been reclaimed from the brink of death. Clearly, her walk had not ended.
There was still more for her to accomplish…
(Watch for Ginger’s continuing saga in “Not Trampled, Part II”)
My girls have learned more from Ginger than simple school lessons. They have witnessed in her a calm and trusting nature that has been able to adapt, endure and overcome. As the fabric of their childhood weaves together with many threads, I am thankful for this piece, where the colors of joy spring from the colors of tragedy.
God has woven our lives with opportunities to showcase His glory and goodness. If we approach life with eyes ready to see and point out His blessings then we will have unlimited chances to help others see Him. satan* wants to make everything appear dark. In Jesus, we have new eyes that can see the threads of blessing running parallel to the threads of difficulty.
(Vicky, thank you for sharing with me a beautiful example of how you recently did this very thing for someone in your family!)
Ephesians 2:10 (NAS)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
In Greek, the word “walk” includes this meaning: to make one’s way, to progress, to make due use of opportunities.
Make use of every opportunity God gives you to help others see how He blesses!
Photo credits: M. Dalrymple
* You may notice here and in other posts that the “s” in satan is never capitalized. It’s not a typo; it is a choice.