Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Everything of Worth Takes Time and Work


I think one of the reasons I admire characters in historical novels (say before the end of WWII) is that most all of them were not afraid of hard work. They put time and effort into everything they did for living and valued even the simplest of things. They weathered the inevitable storms and persevered.

Now we are in the instant gratification age where we don't think something has much worth unless we have to pluck down a fistful of money for it. We'd rather have our $8 cafe salad over one that was picked free from our own backyard.

I'm a newly crowned chicken farmer. Five chickens moved in at my house this past Saturday. For many weeks now I've had to answer all the questions about why I would want to get into chickens, and I have many reasons:
  • - reoccurring food quality and safety issues in the big corporate farms
  • - working toward raising more of my own food for more self-sufficient living
  • - knowing where my food comes from
  • - learning and preserving the old ways
  • - teaching others (mainly my nieces and nephews) about where food comes from and how to grow it for oneself
  • - keeping some type of farming going on our ancestral farmstead
  • - sharing quality food with others (including the truly hungry)
  • - gratification of the work of my own hands
  • - pets :-)

When I was conversing with a relative stranger about chickens her response was something like: "Oh, I'm glad I can afford to buy clean eggs in the store." I had to scratch my head. All the money I've put into chickens so far would have bought me a truck load of eggs, but it isn't about the money or the ease of buying eggs in the store. It is about the work. Most people just can't fathom putting in the work it takes for homegrown food of any kind.

Before I turn this into a preach about issues that could lead us off trail into many brier patches like church outreach to the needy, preparedness, socialism, capitalism, politics, oil crisis, climate changes, etc., let me just remind us all that in the long run we are wired to value the things that cost us the most in our time and efforts. It has taken me months of reading, planning, and preparing to get a coop built. I moved chickens in, but there is still much to do to make it a smooth running operation and to build up to where I'll have enough eggs to start sharing/selling them to others.

As writers we can get tempted to skip the work and time and jump right to "buying the eggs." But to really appreciate your own talent and the blessings that will eventually come from writing for God's glory, you MUST put in the work, lay the foundation of your coop, and let the proper time (sometimes only God knows how long) for things to mature until you are ready to lay that "golden egg" of publication, an award-winner, a bestseller, or whatever your egg looks like.

Don't try to skip the steps, and don't whine that someone with a rather rickety looking coop got her egg first. Trust in God's timing and keep putting in the work - rebuild your coop if you have to. The reward for you will be greater in the end.

(If you ever want to learn more about raising chickens at your own house or just need some research, www.backyardchickens.com is a really valuable site.)

12 comments:

Mary Connealy said...

Becky have you gotten any eggs yet? You're not going to believe how the yolks stand up on a fresh egg. You have to get serious to break it if you want to beat the eggs, they're so so so so fresh.

Good luck with your chickens. Might be best to NOT read The Clueless Cowboy. His chickens cause him much irritation and come to a bad end. :)

I wrote that because I've had chickens. So I know they're ... well ... challenged would be a good word. Not that smart.
Although they're probably plenty smart for poultry.

Becky said...

Sunday I got 2 eggs to my great surprise. The hens are just starting to lay. I've had one a day ever since. I do love farm fresh eggs and had been buying them locally for a while.

What breed(s) do you have?

Becky said...

FYI -- pictures of my first eggs are included on the blog.

Debby Mayne said...

My grandparents had chickens. During the summers when I stayed with them, my great-grandmother and I used to gather the eggs every morning. There was always way more than we could eat, but my grandpa's brothers would stop by and get what was left.

They grew sugar cane, field peas, and corn to sell, as well as a mini garden with fresh veggies for themselves. And my grandpa had a pond stocked with catfish that he handfed every morning. They were almost like chickens when he walked down there with his bucket of catfish food. The surface bubbled with eager fish mouths, all waiting for him to toss the contents of the bucket into the pond.

My grandpa didn't need a gym because he worked hard on his farm. And because he grew his own food, they only had to go to the grocery store once a month.

Cathy Shouse said...

Becky,

I never know what I will find when I come to your blog. I really enjoyed this information about your chickens.

Your comparisons to writing were thought-provoking. Thanks.

Cathy Shouse

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Becky,
This sounds like a great idea. I remember collecting eggs at my grandparents farm in Oregon when I was young.

We had 4 chickens when we lived in Kenya for a year. It was really fun for the kids who treated them like pets. They gave us a lot of wonderful eggs. You don't refrigerate the eggs when you get them fresh like that. We fed the chickens all our vegetable scraps as well as the store bought food, and they loved that.

Our only trouble was keeping the monkeys away from the hens. They love eggs too. I don't think you will have any trouble with that in Ohio! : )

Enjoy those eggs!
Blessings,
Carrie

Lynette Sowell said...

How much fun! Yes, it's work too, but you listed a lot of great reasons to invest in the chickens. Love those eggs! I remember when I was a kid and we'd drive out to Mrs. Jones's farm and get a bunch of eggs. You can't beat the freshness of homegrown, or home-raised.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Becky,

I think it's wonderful that you are doing this. We have switched to all organic foods, but no longer have the space of our own to do something like this since we moved for me to take a new job in Charlotte.

My parents and grandparents raised chickens when I was little. I learned a lot from that experience and here in NC, I've been to a few chicken coops.

Having an ancestral home must be a great blessing as well. I'd love to see you blog more about it.

As to the writing lesson, one of the hardest things God taught me a few years ago, was not to compare myself to others. It made me feel bad and less loved by Him. And so I try not to compare my writing to others, but I admit to laying down a book and thinking, "If only I could write like that!"

Beth Loughner said...

Becky,

What a great idea! You're wise to prepare for the future. Food supplies might not always be so abundant as they are today.

My aunt had chickens. They were mean little things, but the eggs were great.

We love vegetable gardening and have a significant size garden for being in the big city. I still love to can carrots, green beans, tomatoes, and everything pickled. My canned food supply is large this year.

The city has it limits, however. It doesn't take long to learn how fast a city park squirrel can strip a stalk of corn. They also like my cherries.

My current WIP involves a farmer and city girl. I'm amazed at the technology farmers use today. They have a GPS system that will let them know the yield of their crops in any given part of their field to the square foot. My research has taken me to a whole new world. :-)

Happy Chicken Farming,
Beth

Mary Connealy said...

Beth, that GPS does more than tell yield. They can test your soil and program all the info into the GPS system, then send that info to a fertilizer applicator and tell it, apply fertilizer more heavily here because this is poorer soil. And it can send that info to the corn planter and say, 'plant less seed for a few yards because this soil won't support more corn.

Very, very detailed and EXPENSIVE equipment.
We don't own any of it.

Becky, I don't have chickens anymore. But for years my mil would get 100 chicks and raise them and we'd butcher chickens and freeze them. Man! My mother-in-law could gut and cut up a chicken as fast as LIGHTENING.

And when I was a kid we had chickens and every fall we'd have to go out and find them roosting in trees and lock them up for the winter. They'd be sleeping and my dad would take a ladder to the rafters of the barn and grab them and hand them down, flapping and squawking, to his eight children, and we'd carry them, dangling by their legs, four chickens at a time, to the chicken house.

I had a brother who was TERRIFIED of chickens. They are cranky little things.

Erica Vetsch said...

Becky, this is so great! And how empowering and satisfying for you to go through all the steps to become a chicken farmer!

You're so right about valuing what costs us the most.

I admire you for choosing chickens. I'm timid around any bird who doesn't have webbed feet and a round bill. It's in the eyes...I always feel they're sizing me up for the best place to peck!

There's probably a name for this phobia. I'm such a head-case sometimes.

Becky said...

So, Erica, you can raise ducks! LOL They lay good eggs too.