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Conquering Fear, with Gloves

August 2, 2010

I’m afraid of dumb things that can’t hurt me. Bugs with crunchy shells. Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, moths, birds that get loose in your house and chickens.

Up until a year ago, I’d never been around chickens, but fears aren’t usually rational. They just are. Then my eight year old grandson, Caiden began raising chickens. They all have names, and he loves them enough that he mourns deeply when one meets its fate at the hands of a coyote or raccoon or hawk.

So I’m housesitting. Tonight was my first time to put up the chickens alone. I’ve had trial runs, with Caiden at my side. He even taught me his song, “Chickens, put yourselves up, up, up, up, up. Repeat.”, which magically works with them all following him straight into their coop where they wait for food and water and the final counting.

I started the ‘chicken business’ early. I sang ‘chickens, put yourselves up, up, up, up, up,’ not caring if the neighbors heard me. Just praying everyone would hurry right in, I could close the door, pat myself on the back, and head in for the night. Instead, the chickens were all over the yard, content to eat the grasshoppers the garden was offering up, or finish nibbling on the juicy, red watermelon I’d split and left for them. Much like days past, when it was bedtime and our kids wanted to do everything but turn in for the night, because they might miss something! The chickens were nowhere near ready for bedtime.

I filled the waterer. Unplugged the fan, plugged in the light, and began to fill the main feeder. They came running at me, gathering around my feet, pecking up the food like nobody’s business. I carried the feeder into the coop, set it down, unplugged the light, plugged in the fan, as they settled in for the night.  Except for five or six girls and one very large rooster (that’s him on the right in the photo.)  The stragglers were not at all ready to go in for the night.

Fearing the worst, I kept singing and put on my gardening gloves, sweat beginning to run down my chest. ‘I’m going to have to pick those chickens up, carry them to the coop and throw them in.’ I gathered handfuls of  food, and explained to the (stupid) chickens they would die if they stayed outside tonight. Some horrible creature would come eat them and Caiden would be heartbroken, so couldn’t they just please put themselves up? Overcoming my fears somewhat, I managed to catch all but two – one young girl and one rooster, who kept stopping to crow here and there, even though I explained to him it was bedtime, not morning and he looked ridiculous, for pete’s sake.

Have you ever tried to chase a chicken? Much like trying to make a kid go to the bathroom, or eat cold peas, or sleep – some things are harder than they look. One skinny chicken is darned hard to catch when they have the entire yard to run around. I finally got the last girl. Literally bribed her with food sprinkled in front of me, swooped down and grabbed her with my gloved hands, while she squawked a bit, then slid the door to the coop open and tossed her inside.

Only the rooster left. I fed him a trail that led right to the door of the coop. I told him everyone else was in there, all the GIRLS were in there, it was nice and cool and there was fresh water. No go. He’d get within inches and then turn and run. ‘Stupid rooster! You’re gonna die if you don’t go to bed, and I’ll have to tell Caiden it’s my fault.’ The rooster was not impressed.

I went inside, called Sarah and told her I’d been putting chickens up for 40 minutes but one last rooster absolutely would not go into the coop, and by the way, what are ‘spurs’ and will he use them on me, if I have to swoop down and grab him? Because he looked darned scary to touch, let alone pick up and carry across the yard.

Sarah graciously told me she was sorry it had taken me so long – it should take about 5 minutes. All I had to do was wait til dusk, then turn on the light in the coop (apparently they don’t like the dark), set out their water and food and let them ‘put themselves up, up, up, up, up.’ By the way, his name is Edward; the other rooster, Alfred, isn’t very nice to him and he may not want to go into the coop where Alfred will surely beat him up some more, but he wouldn’t spur me anyway, worst case scenario.

One last time, with a prayer sent up, “God, please help stupid Edward go in for the night so I don’t have to tell Caiden it’s my fault his rooster died.’ Then I turned on the light in the coop, opened the door and stood aside. And he ‘put himself up, up, up, up, up.’ Within about five seconds. Without me singing a word. Because the light was on. And his friends were in there.

Tomorrow night I will sing, and pray, but I won’t be afraid, and maybe that was the whole point. I’m pretty sure, after tonight’s ‘chicken business’ I could catch a hamster in the middle of the night, or grab hold of a guinea pig. I might need to wear gloves, but I could do it. Conquering fears, even those without validity, feels pretty empowering.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you. I will hold on to you(r gloved hand) with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:7

15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 7:26 am

    “The rooster rules the roost … but mama rules the rooster,” with apologies to the original author of that quote.

    Well done! And I’m with ya. Never trust a chicken. Sounds like a real adventure over there. Oh how I wish I could come have an early cup of coffee with you and then do some knitting together while we watched some girlie movie.

    Hang in there!!

  2. Mary Huckaby permalink
    August 3, 2010 7:46 am

    How funny! Sure wish we could see a video tape of you chasing down those chickens. I’m with you though–I’ve never been around farm animals and sure wouldn’t want to get ‘up close and personal’ with anything like that! lol I’ll be thinking of you (with a smile) this week as you put your chickens to bed.

  3. August 3, 2010 7:56 am

    Maybe you should quote scripture to them, like Father Tim did with Barnabus!? Hey – it’s worth a shot!

    • August 3, 2010 9:53 am

      There you go Leah, if it worked for Father Tim then I’m all over it. I looked at him last night, thinking of my mother-in-law who used to catch the chicken and wring it’s neck, pluck it and cook it – and wondered, how on earth did she do that? We’ve grown into a bunch of citified bunch of sissies and I’m sure she would have been sorely disappointed in me, being afraid to even touch him.

  4. August 3, 2010 10:15 am

    I will not laugh Bev. I will say you went above and beyond the call of duty. Isn’t it funny how some ordingary things really do just seem a bit, well, frightening? There’s something about picking up birds (and I absolutely love to WATCH birds) that just sort of creeps me out. So….good job. I hope you treated yourself to something special 🙂

    • August 3, 2010 10:37 am

      Linda, it’s funny – like you said, I LOVE feeding birds from my feeders, have loads of bird watching books, but actually handling one stretches me like crazy. The gloves made me at least confident if I got pecked it wouldn’t hurt too much. Only one has pecked me so far and she was busy laying an egg! I treated myself to potato chips and a diet pepsi for dinner!

  5. August 3, 2010 12:16 pm

    I just enjoyed this post so much – it made me laugh – not at you but at my own fears which must seem so silly to some! And I love the 2Timothy quote – I used to have that memorized – I need to work on it again.
    Thanks for a delightful story!

  6. August 3, 2010 2:14 pm

    If I were you I would be so obnoxious in my pride of facing that fear! My husband can certainly attest to that fact… when I recently pulled ticks of my shih tzu I kept saying “I am woman, hear me roar!”. Pathetic, but so satisfying:-)
    You are always willing to look challenges in the face , so I’m not a bit surprised that you did it, and I love the scriptures you strengthened your spirit with.
    Congratulations- facing fear IS empowering, and thrills God to boot!

  7. August 3, 2010 2:14 pm

    “off my shih tzu, not of” Sorry!

  8. August 3, 2010 3:49 pm

    Oh, I love this story! I can feel your pain! We had chickens when I was a little girl, and I know about mad mama hens – and I was deathly afraid of many of our roosters! But I won’t tell you any of my scary stories!! Maybe tonight will be better!

    I think God is really trying to teach me about conquering fears. Isaiah 41:10 is my favorite lean-on verse, but God knows I need frequent reminders to just trust Him. It’s amazing how He puts verses right in front of us at just the right time! II Tim. 1:7 is another favorite. Pastor used that in his sermon Sunday, I read it on another blog, and it’s been on my mind. Then you post it again – for me! Thanks!

    I enjoy your posts that seem to flow so easily from your heart and mind! Anyone ever tell you that you’re a great storyteller?

    • August 3, 2010 5:59 pm

      Thanks Glenda, for the sweet words of encouragement. I’m praying tonight goes smoothly – have been sweet talking those chickens all day long. It’s so hot here I can’t imagine they would want to stay outside any longer than they had to!

  9. August 3, 2010 9:46 pm

    Didn’t your blog used to be called “Scratchin’ the Surface”? See? No sweat. 🙂 Good for you, Grammy. Grammy of kiddos and chicks and dogs. All in a day’s work.

    • August 3, 2010 10:36 pm

      There you go, Gretchen – a new way of looking at it! I’m still a far cry from the ‘chicken whisperer’ but we did get by better tonight.

  10. August 4, 2010 11:42 am

    Good to see you on my blog yesterday, Bev.

    I hope you don’t mind that I was laughing all through your chicken story! I’ll bet you were glad there was no hidden camera on you! What an adventure you’re having.

  11. August 5, 2010 9:42 am

    You, my dear, are an awesome Grandma! :v)

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