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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016
We had a chicken coop made for us by a neighborhood young man. It is hawk-proof and coyote-proof, the two main predators here in AZ. We had gotten these chickens for their eggs, but even more for the life they bring. We have friends who have chickens and we wanted to try it out.

Another friend advised, "Don't name them. Once you name them, you won't be able to let go."

So one day Miss Perkins was by the scrub oak, and Tiger was by the coop...

You see, I did name them.

At first they all looked the same. Then I noticed FLASH. Flash was the fastest chicken. Two little black feathers in the back and she RAN everywhere.

My son named Miss Perkins. Don't ask me why he named her that. I have no idea. But the name fit.

We had six Rhode Island Reds, then one died and we got one more Red and a black-and-white chicken we called Tiger, for the same reason we call my program Chris Fabry Live!—we're just not that creative.

Nadine sold us our chickens. She said, "Keep them in the coop at first and then let them walk around. They'll find shelter. Let them free range." So for a week or so we kept a tight rein. Then, I would leave them out for an hour and let them roam, then entice them back to the coop with food and close them in.

Tiger and Miss Perkins were the hardest to get back to the coop because the other chickens were merciless. I think they were racist toward Tiger—but Miss Perkins was a Red, too. I don’t understand it.

A farmer friend of mine says chickens can be really, really mean. And I believe it. But I grew to really like these creatures—who don't do anything but peck, poop, and lay eggs. They make this interesting noise, too. And they have bright, inquisitive eyes.

The most fun I had with them was calling them to one side of the yard, holding out cabbage or lettuce or Andrea's kefir grains, which they loved. I would call them over, then run toward the coop and they would follow—of course, Flash in front, in a V formation. It was like the geese in Fly Away Home. And I would call the kids out—hey, watch this!

Every morning I let the chickens out, saying "Hello, ladies!" as I approached. Tiger was always the first out of the coop, probably because of all the abuse she was getting in there.

And if they were in the yard, just opening the door caused them to look up and move toward the house. If I was feeling a little down, I could always go stand out back and those chickens would come around me and pay attention.

Soon it got to the point where I just let them stay in the yard. There are hawks nearby, but I would take my hat and flap it, and the chickens would immediately run for the scrub oak. I saw coyotes in the neighborhood, but they didn’t look very hungry. At night you could hear them howl. But again... what were the chances?

Plus, there's something about the freedom of chickens who stay near the coop. I don't want to coop up an animal. That seems cruel to me. Let them roam.

Last Thursday... or Wednesday, the days blur together... I looked at the clock. It was after 6:00 and I hadn't put "the girls" to bed. I had been covering the coop with a tarp when it was cold, but it was getting warmer now. I had fed them at 4:00 and watered them.

So I ambled out back with a flashlight and bent down to look inside. Two Reds and Tiger were in the laying boxes. I looked on the roost. No chickens. Looked in the corners, where they can hunker down. No chickens.

I shone the flashlight on the scrub oaks. No chickens. I walked toward the more open area. No chickens.

And then, in a scratched-out part of the grass and gravel and sand that is our yard, I saw her. Miss Perkins. Actually, I don't know if it was Miss Perkins, but it was a Red. And her eyes were closed. And her body was lifeless... no movement.

Why would anyone want to hurt my chickens?

And immediately I felt this... ownership. I had been a bad chicken farmer. I had been derelict in my duty to protect. And here was the lifeless chicken in front of me... a few feathers around, but otherwise intact.

It was Tuesday night, now that I think of it, because the trash is picked up on Wednesday.

I picked her up and wrapped her in a plastic coffin, said a few words, and took her to the bin at the end of the driveway and let her go.

And I told my wife and kids.

The other three chickens are still missing, and we can only assume the worst.

Now I've been dealing with the question, "What do we do now? How do we keep these chickens safe?"

And I've been thinking about the lessons to be learned. The first one is how desperately vulnerable my chickens were to a predator. Because the truth is hard to believe: My chickens have an enemy.

LESSONS FROM THE CHICKEN COOP
  1. My chickens have an enemy.
  2. The enemy will devour the flock.
  3. The enemy will kill and leave a chicken behind.
  4. The enemy wants nothing more than to KILL, STEAL, and DESTROY.
  5. The enemy will return to wreak more havoc.

    (Now, let's be honest—if we looked at this from the coyote's perspective, we might hear him giving thanks to God for His provision for the pups today. So I'm disparaging the coyotes and painting them as all evil. Which isn't really fair, since they were here before my chickens were. But the analogy is still true for you and me, as it concerns our enemy.)
  6. We don't pay attention to the warning signs.
  7. We deny the truth, thinking THAT CAN'T HAPPEN TO ME.
  8. Once the enemy strikes, it changes everything. (Do you know how often I let the chickens out now? Not very. We're all scarred by this.)
  9. But the chickens forget. Every day when I open the door, they're ready to run. They evidently have very little short-term memory. As a protector, I have to remember for them.
  10. What did Jesus say about wolves?
How much more valuable we are than chickens (and sparrows)! And yet, God has left us in a vulnerable place. Not without protection, or hope, but still vulnerable. I think He did that for a reason. I think you and I become stronger because of the reality of an enemy—and we become more dependent on our Owner because of it.

2 comments:

Grannyfatandtattle said...

Just this week we have lost 4 out of 5 of our cats. I know the heart break. They were outside cats and they stayed around the outside of the house. They all waited at the backdoor at least twice a day to eat. They were friendly, beautiful and attentive. We have plenty of room for them to roam and live in a wooded area. They had plenty of shelter, food and water. There was a male (dad) a female (mom) and three kittens. They were a family and they pretty much stayed together. The hard part of all this is the not knowing what happened to them. Dad is here now. I have asked him what happened but no response. I am left with the feelings of wondering and helplessness.

Rebekah Dorris said...

Very insightful! Thank you! A lesson I learned from the chicken coop: Never try to execute a chicken with a meat cleaver. With your three year old helping. Just don't do that. Oh well. What don't kill you makes you stronger. If you're three; not if you're a chicken.
:)