It started out as a family project and evolved into a full-blown farming experience. My daughter and her husband bought six chickens. OK, they were baby chickens, you know, – chicks, peeps. Of course, it was fun at first as each one of their kids played with them and took responsibility for feeding them, changing their bedding and providing them with water.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, there were plenty of frustrating days with the kids as they attempted to herd their free-range chickens into their pen for the night, and there were plenty of times when parents and kids argued over whose turn it was to collect eggs, catch chickens, and change bedding after cleaning out the pen.
Watching the coop evolution itself was fascinating as they moved their chicken family from a little coop, added fencing, and then put them in a bigger coop that was insulated-light heated.
Miraculously, those six birds made it through an entire summer without incident. Then, in the early fall, the first attack hit. Initially, they thought it was a four-legged critter, but then they found the remnants of the bird and figured it was eaten by a chicken hawk.
As the winter went on, the attacks did as well. Each call to me came with sadness and compassion as they described the latest horrific occurrence and eaten chicken. It was like they had created “Pickin’ Chicken” for the local predators. They’d tell me how the other chickens had stopped laying eggs due to PTSD, and how sad it was that their birds were becoming animal food.
As of last week, there were only two hens and a rooster left. The carnage had taken its toll on the kids, but in a discussion with my daughter this morning when she was describing how ruthless those chicken hawks are, it suddenly hit me that this experience was textbook because it was undeniably representative of real life.
Back when I was a chicken or a sitting duck, my primary boss walked into my board meeting one night and, out of the clear blue sky said, “There’s only one thing wrong with this place, and it’s Nick Jacobs. I’m making a motion that you take a vote right now to fire him, tonight.” Boom! Chickenhawk attack! Apparently, I’d upset him, and this was his response.
Just then one of my board members looked at him and said, “My father told me that there would only be afew people in my life who I would care about as a truly good friend, and I’ve felt that about Nick since the first time I met him.” Following that endorsement, the motion fell short of getting even one vote. That boss got up and stormed out of the boardroom in frustrated anger.
After this, in our own symbolic way we put fencing over the top of our figurative coop, hung shiny CDs, and got a fake owl. OK, not really, but we did take steps to protect ourselves from this human predator who was after me.
As time went on, I watched him try to take out several other hypothetical chickens inappropriately. As soon as I’d see him swooping in on someone who was competent but did not acquiesce to his bullying, I’d offer them a job. (He finally self-destructed.)
Remember, no matter how hard you try, there will always be predators lurking to bring turmoil into your life.
By the way, my daughter and family bought 10 peeps and a new coop today, and they found out it was a Fox!