How we ended up housing twenty chickens in our kitchen began with a misunderstanding. When I ordered chicks, the local feed store said that twelve would arrive in early June with the rest coming a month later. While I wasn’t sure where we’d put them, at least we’d have time to prepare. Or so I thought.
Our current laying hens, which we’d bought as chicks four summers ago, were nearing retirement, producing only a couple of eggs a day. Rather than flipping a coin over which member of our six-person household would get an omelet in the morning, it seemed like a good time to get more chicks.
Then there was the meat shortage. I grew up on a small farm where my mom raised almost all of our food. My husband and I had four acres, so why not raise meat birds? Better yet, they’d be organic and humanely raised. So after ordering both sets of chicks, I called a local butcher and made arrangements for processing. Then, while my husband shook his head, I began pondering where to put so many chickens.
If you wait to figure everything out before you start, I’ve learned, you might never start. We had a shed, a couple of galvanized tubs and a heat lamp. But the tubs would only work for a couple of weeks, and the shed was full of furniture. What we really needed was a wooden crate for when the chicks got bigger, an additional coop and a chicken run. As a jump-first-and-figure-it-out-as-I-go girl, I cling to Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (NASB).
I had needs. I wasn’t even talking riches. So God could supply. Right? Only our chicks ended up arriving within one week of each other. On the day I picked up batch number one, I still hadn’t found a crate. Then, driving home with a dozen chicks peeping in the back of my van, I passed a crate on the side of the road. Free! read the sign. So I called my husband and he carted it home in his truck.
Meanwhile we set the first chicks up in a tub in the kitchen—the only space we had room. When the second set of chicks arrived the following week, we borrowed a friend’s heat lamp and put them in the other tub. Then we moved the older chicks into the crate on our front porch.
A few weeks later, just when batch number one was getting too big for the crate, my neighbor rattled down my driveway in her lawn tractor, hauling an unfinished chicken coop and set it on our lawn. After my husband finished it off, in went the first chicks, while the second got the crate. Then, when the first chicks were ready to move outside, I spotted a free 8×12 chicken run on Facebook. Walla! Thanks to our generous neighbors and my husband’s hard work, we had everything we needed.
This week, we even emptied our shed so the younger chicks will have a coop of their own. But here’s the thing. In life, I’ve often thought that trusting God means that he’ll provide what I need so that I can move forward. But I’m discovering that the way God often works is that as I move forward, he’ll provide what I need. This involves a whole lot more trust. But to know that it’s true, all I have to do is look out my window at twenty chickens and two new coops.
Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the two piglets that are arriving in August.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of mid-coast Maine. She is also the author of the Lantern Hill Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith. She loves it when you share and reply!