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January 25, 2012

It's like riding a bicycle....

Tuesday was a hard day on the farm. Tuesday was a great day on the farm. Tuesday was a hard day on the farm.....Sometimes this life is like riding a bicycle.

Angel - nothing special or remarkable. She was the sweetest thing.

The down strokes are the hard days. The days when the bugs eat all your green bean, or the rain won't stop, or you go out to find rats in your turkey house. That's the hard work. It feels pointless, its repetitive, and sometimes it feels like its all uphill.

The upstrokes are the good days. When you go out to find a perfectly blue sky day and the birds are singing, and the skip poppin' baby goats come running around the barn to dance and prance away the day, or when your best hard workin' farm dog helps you and its like you can read each other's minds. The good days are a piece of cake and its all sunshine and roses. Its like driving fast with your windows down and the radio up and the wind in your hair on a straight country road with no one around for miles.

But the upstrokes and the down strokes, together, propel you forward. Hard, easy, hard easy, pretty soon you're making progress. The hard times - the challenges - force you out of your comfort zone and make you learn something new. All "easy" days give you a false sense of well being and don't let you master the skills you need to keep going. And it makes you ungrateful and self absorbed. Its good to remember the cost at which your life comes. It keeps you honest. Its the difference between "Hey look at everything I've done!" and "I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me."

Tuesday was Angel's last day with us. She was just a chicken, one of my laying hens. Nothing remarkable or interesting about her, just a regular old laying hen with a big floppy comb and beautiful white feathers. Of course she was a favorite. She was one of the original chicks that we got when we started out. I think she must have been 7 or 8 years old. I can't even believe that she lasted this long - I prepared to preach her funeral 2 or 3 times when she had a prolapse a couple summers ago and I was sure she wouldn't make it. But she did.

This time her luck ran out. She developed some kind of abscess that couldn't be fixed and her number was up. My smart friend calls this kind of end "the final kindness." And so it was and it was time. It should have been last week but I couldn't bring myself to make the decision. Tuesday, tho, I couldn't put it off any longer.

We've had a lot of attrition lately with our good old hens, but that's only because they are getting along in years. So one by one we are saying goodbye to them. Most of them we just let pass away with dignity, unless, like Angel, they were suffering.

Angel PurplePants held a special place in my heart. There's a funny story about her, and how she got her name, and I'll write it up one day. But not today. She was my good ol' girl and we had a fun relationship. She let me carry her around. She came when I called her. She wasn't flappy and ridiculous. She was the sweetest thing. So we buried her beside a lovely little tree in the garden.

That was the down stroke.

The upstroke was that we also hauled in a full harvest of meat chickens. We probably have about 35 pounds of fresh, naturally raised meat cooling in our coldest fridge right now. Tomorrow I'll part them up and we'll have good eating for many meals. And they are huge too. So many dinners, so much stock, so many leavin's for the cats. Thank heaven for our full harvest! We've fed them on the cheap and now are getting a just reward. To be sure it was a cold day with a biting wind but that just made us work a little faster.

So it was a weird day. One to her grave and others to their glory in noodles. Sometimes folks ask me how we can butcher our own chickens. But today just showed its all how you think about it. We'd never send dear little Angel to the pot but we couldn't get that mean meat roo to the block fast enough.

Down stroke. Upstroke. Just keep peddling. It feels like progress.

Have a great Wednesday everyone - and if you have a special hen, give her an extra snuggle and tell her she's the sweetest thing.