As you know, we have 17 chickens. They lay eggs every day. Their entire lives revolve around laying those eggs: they eat, sleep, and socialize so that they can lay eggs.

For the most part, they lay eggs in nesting boxes. We never had to teach or train them to do this. They just knew: “There is a plastic bucket attached to the wall. I will lay an egg in it.” Brilliance. Every once in a while, we’ll find an egg in the middle of the stall or under the roost, as if they just couldn’t hold that egg in one moment longer. It’s as if they were just going about their day, when it plopped out – the wrong time, and the wrong place – but an egg, nonetheless. They were created to produce eggs, and they do it!

Anyway, this got me thinking about how each of us is made to produce something unique. (My deepest apologies that I can’t come up with something more elevated than egg-laying, but it’s what I’ve got. And you’ll get the point as long as you work with me here.) “The Chicken Principle” is the thing we do so naturally that we almost can’t help but do it. It’s the thing that just plops out when we’re going about our daily tasks. It might be design, counsel, music, dreams, organization, html, or any other thing.   For me, it’s teaching. It just runs in my blood. I teach here, I teach there, I teach everywhere. I eat, sleep, and socialize so that I can teach. That’s why I homeschool, write, lead Bible studies, and say “yes” to speaking opportunities… because I love to teach. Of course, like those eggs, there is a proper time and place to do the deed, but it’s so natural to my personality that if I talk to you for more than 10 minutes, chances are that I’m going to start teaching, even if I didn’t mean to. Of course, teaching is still hard work for me (just like laying an egg is for a chicken, I imagine), but it’s natural to me and it fills me with vim and vigor. I love it.

Lately, I’ve noticed that most people have shut down their Chicken Principle because they don’t realize how great it is. Whatever-it-is that you produce is there for a reason. Don’t deny its productivity just because it comes naturally. That’s the whole point! It comes naturally so that you will do it! And learn how to do it well, and often. 

What’s your Chicken Principle?

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:17

Posted in Chickens, Homeschooling, Marriage, Motherhood | 12 Comments


P.S. The chicken came first.

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I Told You So

A fur-lined cape to visit the chickens after dinner on a Monday evening.

I told you she was the fanciest farm-girl I ever saw.

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Little Rooster Crowin’

This morning when I opened the barn to let the chickens out, the sunlight streamed in through the doorway and must have hit the rooster in just the right way. As if taken over by a force larger than himself, he crowed for the first time in his life.

He was shocked.

The hens were shocked.

I’ll never forget how they all froze in that universal experience in which something so new seems strangely familiar.

He tried his feeble little call a few more times; the hens stared at him and shook their heads in amazement.

I, of course, have been humming “Meet Me in the Morning” all day long.

“Little rooster crowing; must be something on his mind.” – Bob Dylan

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As of a few months ago, I was very skeptical about all of those folks who say, “Chickens are easy!”

But, I must say, with 3 full months of chicken-experience behind us, “Chickens are easy!”

Of course, Ryan has done most of the hard work (building their first home as well as their enclosed stall in the barn, toting them from our house out to their permanent home, lugging home the big bags of chicken feed, lovingly taking special care of one failing rooster, etc.), but I’m fairly certain that he would agree! Our 17 feathered friends are a delight.

In March, they arrived in a small cardboard box, just days after hatching:

We introduced them to a larger cardboard box in our basement with a chick water bottle, a feed dispenser, and a heat lamp.

One month later, Ryan enclosed a stall in the barn, and we moved them out to their permanent home (necessary features: food, water, a roost, a ramp, and a few nesting boxes):

One month after that, we began opening up their own private entrance every morning so they could free-range. Here’s the big moment when the first chicken emerged into the light of day!

And now, we simply open the door in the morning, check their food and water, and close the door at night! They stay close to the barn, and seem to have a great sense for regulating their exposure to wet or hot weather. A month from now, we’ll be looking for our first egg!


Posted in Chickens, Farm Life | 6 Comments