What is the chief end of man?
To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
So... how exactly do you farm to the glory of God?
That is what we get to try to figure out this year... Here we go!
Although chicken Mama and I have not been doing anything here on the blog, we have been very busy. In the Fall of 2011, we raised our first small batch of meat birds on pasture, have started raising ~200 baby chicks for Jen to sell in the Spring as started pullets (hens getting ready to begin laying), fenced our pasture for our two new heifer calves, and...
(one hour later)
Well, so much for waxing poetic. As I was typing that stuff above, I heard a small chirp from the front yard where the baby chicks are housed and glanced out the window... The heat lamps were off. It is already completely dark, cold, windy and the first snow of the winter is falling lightly. Tonight is supposed to be the coldest night of the winter so far (lows in the mid-teens). Not so good for month-old chicks to be without technological aide, for the first time, on a night like this.
The stereotype seems to be that all farmers have their horror stories and/or tall tales (depending on how they choose to tell the story) about something going completely haywire in the worst kinds of weather. A few months ago, my Mom emailed me and said that I made what we are doing out here sound so idyllic. Well, Mom, there are lots of those moments, but here is the other side of the coin.
So Chicken Mama and I pull our jackets on and get outside. Who has time for a game plan? This is the third time that the lights have shorted out in the last 28 hours. Fixing it again is obviously not really an option, but something has to be done. Why are there chickens running around outside of their shelter? Great.
We start catching the birds who have managed to get out of their "coop" into the cold and who do not know what to do now. Chicken Mama stuffs a few inside her jacket to warm them a little while she hunts for more. In just a few minutes we had all ten or so birds inside again. Straw bales. We still have a few dry bales of straw we can spread around and make little nests with. I grab a bale and toss it over the electric poultry fence so Chicken Mama can start getting to work. As I toss the bale over the poultry fence the flashlight... why are there chicks outside of the fence? Lovely!
By this time apparently the chicks had been in the cold long enough that they were slowing down - they barely even try to avoid capture. Poor little birds. They'd have been frozen to death long before morning. Thank God I saw them. That is five more returned to the nest. How many others are out here?
Before continuing the search, I have Chicken Mama unplug the light which we knew was causing the short and I reset the GFCI outlet to return half of the heat lamps to operation. After quickly grabbing the rest of the bales for nesting materials, I continue the search for missing birds. The snow falls a little more heavily as I pace the entire chicken yard fence line. Eventually I find another three or four birds and get them under the lights. At one point I am crawling on hands and knees along the entire front of the house peering under the azaleas with the flashlight. If there are any more chicks out there, they have hidden themselves well and I wont be finding them tonight.
The last touch is to grab the bales of wood shavings and place them along the outside of the tarp wall for just a little bit more wind protection.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is life on the farm. Sometimes things cannot wait and you do what you have to, no matter what, because that is what is required of you. Perhaps that is part of what Jesus was talking about when he said,
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. (Gospel of Matthew 12:45-46 New King James Version)I certainly do not feel faithful or wise, but we are stewards over our little wanna-be farm - even over these chickens.
Here is to farming to the glory of God!