Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Of Chickens & Caretakers of Charlie Hebdo Victims

Last Wednesday, a massacre in my chicken coop.  Neighbor's dogs already drawing blood, and death, by the time I arrived.
DNA takes over when you come upon a bear while walking in the woods, and during a chicken massacre.  In my experience.
Screaming.  8 days later my voice still not good.
Blessedly the dogs owner heard, ran, helped.  With character & integrity.  

He helped gather the dead.  And wounded.

Wednesday was the Paris massacre too.  Gathering coop debris Thursday evening, still seeing where dead chickens lay, feathers now in hand, how could this be dead people with families, friends, lives?
This chore, a fragment of the gift of stewardship, made me aware of and pray for those caretaking the dead and wounded in the Charlie Hebdo office.
A headline arrived about those caretakers.  A police commissioner, after meeting with family of a Charlie Hebdo victim, committed suicide.

Less than 1/4 acre, in a subdivision of tightly packed houses, these pics are my home.  Where my garden begins.
Garden views reign at every window.  Imperative, and non-negotiable.  Thirty years building, garden paths, terraces, conservatory, potager, ponds, chicken coop, plantings blooming every day of the year, and etc.
Three years ago, chickens arrived.  The goal was to enjoy their calm sounds & movements, marvel at their beauty, then, processing.  Instead, they taught me how smart chickens are, and human-like in their behaviors of hierarchy.  Who knew they would make me laugh, daily?    Plus, egg ministry.  Ridiculous, it's fun giving eggs away.  How wonderful my garden soil would be if it had had chicken poop for 3 decades instead of 3 years.
Without effort, these chicks humbled me in arenas I did not know existed.  They gave something no garden, no garden writer, no garden speaker, no garden classes, no horticulture degree, no garden book, no PBS garden show, no garden center, no garden website, no garden blog, no garden Youtube, no garden Facebook wall, even hinted toward,  Stewardship.
Until chickens, as enriching as my garden was, it was merely amusement compared to stewardship.
Amusement with my garden felt like going to church, tacking onto its religion, reading the bible, making strong efforts to become spiritually filled.  Stewardship, gives hints at hearing the author of the bible, knowing Nature as the 'written' structure of Providence.   And the spiritual well?  Filled beyond measure, without effort.
Wendell Berry has written of stewardship in essays, poetry, fiction, for decades.
Stewardship cannot be given.  But, like Tasha Tudor chose for her motto, she read in a poem, Take Joy,  Stewardship is there to be taken.  Whenever you are ready.  Stewardship is far more than caretaking chickens or a garden.  It is metaphor.

What does stewardship mean to you?

I settled for amusement with my garden, not knowing there was more.
Stewardship.  You have it for your own life, whether you think so, or not.
Great amusement in knowing my chickens gave me stewardship.  Greater thanks in the depth of the gift.
Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
Do you know what processing a chicken means?  Killing & eating.  Never named my chicks, knowing I was a tough girl and would process them.  Of course those thoughts were toast long ago.  
Alpha Girl has major physical trauma but is eating, pooping, alert, and I'm hand feeding.  Yesterday she pushed away, in her total alpha girl 'attitude', another chick.  Of course I had to tell Beloved how noble Alpha Girl is and I could only wish to be as noble in a tough situation.
Beloved tried to remain speechless at this new fact about chickens.  


home before dark said...

So sorry and saddened by your brutal loss. At least you can find metaphor and solace in the act of stewardship. My great aunt had chickens in her city garden. She'd let them out into her garden to eat bugs and poop. As a child I thought that was icky. Now I marvel at her common brilliance. To Alpha Girls in every flock!

Anonymous said...


Sad to say that we have suffered similar trauma with deadly attacks on our cats...semi-feral little souls who depend on the kindness of strangers. My husband has even been injured by unleashed dogs as he attempted rescues. Alas, our neighbors are not as compassionate nor helpful as yours.
Please accept our sympathies.
Sharon Stanley Ruggerio
Houston, Texas

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Stewardship means I take care of what god has entrusted me so I can stand before and hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."
I am so very sorry about your chickens..and, yes, I do know about processing chickens...used to help Aunt Bonnie "process" one for Sunday lunch.

Maria Killam said...

Aww so sad! Sorry to hear about your chickens! I really want my Mom to get some!

La Contessa said...

TASHA TUDOR.........LOVED HER TOO have ALL her books!
YOUR BELOVED..............he gets it!!

Dewena said...

I'm so sorry that some of your hens were killed. Even with the worldwide tragedies it still hurts. This is such a lovely post, there is such beauty and charm in your words, as always, and in pictures of your rooms looking into the gardens.

When we asked our egg lady down the street for 3 hens this fall, we never expected that it would become a personal relationship, never even began to imagine that they would follow us around outside and squat down waiting for us to pick them up, wait for us to keep them company when it was time for them to march up their ramp at night. Who knew that they would become more than egg providers, more than a picturesque touch here?

With 24 acres surrounded by hills on all sides forming a natural canyon we don't even have to fence them up. Two dachshunds, a Jack Russell and a half Great Pyrenees, as well as a cat all coexist peacefully with 3 hens. And we get to feel as if we're farmers.

Your thoughtful posts inspire me.

Ann Stanley said...

Your house is beautiful, Tara, and I totally get your chicken thing and your stewardship thing. I find tending to animals more deeply satisfying than tending to plants, though I am being a gardener every day.

Anonymous said...

Oh! I am so sorry about your chickens! I hope you will get some more!!!

Were they in their coop? Can the dog not get in any more? I hope!!!!