Learning Life Lessons from the Chickens

lessons from the chickens

We’ve had our chickens for about 7 months now. Everyone still loves them as much as the day we brought them home. Our chickens love the attention they get from the kids. They don’t mind being picked up, they follow the kids everywhere when they play in the backyard, and they come when we call for them. They have helped the kids learn about responsibility, self-sufficiency, and about dependency. They have been a great asset to our family.

The kids (and I have to admit, Mike and I too) love to feed the chickens scraps. They love all kinds of foods- popcorn, vegetables, fruits, croutons, sunflower seeds, and really, any leftovers from the kids’ plates. As soon as you open the door on the deck, they come running from wherever they are. If one doesn’t hear you open the door, you only have to cluck your tongue at them and whoever is lagging will quickly catch up.

Our deck is pretty small- only 10 ft. x 10 ft. We have no steps down to the backyard from the deck and it’s about 10 feet or so off the ground. When you go to feed them scraps, the chickens all gather beneath you, each one looking up at you expectedly, and all clucking in excitement. They watch you intently and then dash to get the food as soon as it’s been thrown. It’s no wonder everyone loves to indulge the birds with treats!

As soon as you throw the food over the edge, they all frantically rush to get their share. We have one chicken though that does things a little differently. Instead of rushing to the food that has been thrown, Dorothy waits for one of the other chickens to run off with a piece of whatever it is they are eating. She then chases that bird down to try to take the food away from her! She does this every time. There is never a shortage of food and so she has no need to steal from one of the other chickens; but every time we throw food down she does this.

chickenThe kids noticed that while Dorothy often chases down the other birds, most of the time she doesn’t get to take the food from whomever she is chasing. They may run around a good bit and yet she rarely is able to take the food from the other chicken. When she decides that she can’t get it from whomever she is chasing, she will rush back to the original spot where we threw the food. Most of the time she discovers that it is all gone. She looks around for someone else to take food from and if she sees another chicken with something, she will pursue that chicken next. Most of the time, she comes up empty-beaked.

I have tried to use this as a lesson for the kids. Dorothy, in her quest to not have to battle the crowd of other chickens and hoping for an “easy” meal, chases down another chicken only to end up with nothing. I’ve tried to point out to the kids that many times that’s how life is when we don’t wish to put in the work that needs to be done and settle for the easy way out. Most of the time those easy ways ends up costing us. It’s better to put in the work ourselves instead of relying on someone else (or stealing from someone else!) to provide for us. If Dorothy would only go to the main food instead of thinking she can get an easy meal by stealing someone else’s food, she would find she can be satisfied every time.

roaadSometimes it’s difficult for us to learn this lesson. We want things to be easy. Unfortunately, easy isn’t always the answer. How many times have we taken a path that promises us great rewards only to walk away disappointed and still needing to finish what we started? How often has taken the easy road led to roadblocks and more problems? How many times have we walked away, like Dorothy, empty-handed?

We need to learn this lesson- to achieve our goals and to gain what we want most in life we will have to put forth hard work and effort. What we desire most won’t be handed to us on a silver tray. If we aren’t willing to put forth the effort needed and only wish to steal from others, well, more than likely, in the end, we will have nothing. Sure, there might be an occasion when we succeed by stealing from someone else, but typically that isn’t how it will end. We also have to ask ourselves if this is the way we really want to live.

Dorothy rarely gets to enjoy the treats we throw out for her and her friends. She’s too busy worrying about what someone else has instead of focusing on what she can gain if she just puts forth a little positive effort. She winds up tired, mad, and hungry. I hope that my kids can see how silly acting that way is. Instead of trying to take what others have, and instead of worrying what others have that we don’t, it’s more productive and gratifying to work hard and stay focused on the rewards that our ours for the taking if we only put forth the time and honest effort.

hard work

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