Chicken Problems and Other Wildlife Concerns

 

Last week, I came home and found two chickens in my yard.

Now just so we’re clear, I don’t own chickens and I don’t live on a farm. I don’t know why they showed up or where they came from.

Our subdivision is a nice, peaceful place that was fairly quiet until a few days ago when these chickens began crowing in MY BACKYARD at 4AM IN THE MORNING!

There is no snooze button for that wake-up call, my friend.

So far, all of our attempts to shoo them away have failed. They tried our neighbor’s backyard for a few days, but decided to come back. They have moved in a made a nest.

Perhaps they considered that with five kids, a cat and a dog they wouldn’t be noticed? And for the most part, they’re not…until 4AM IN THE MORNING!

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A couple of weeks before the chickens showed up, two ducks strolled into our driveway.

Why is my home becoming wildlife’s choice for refuge?

My neighbor called animal control about the ducks and asked what could be done.

The lady at animal control asked her how old the ducks are. (You may be wondering, as I was, how one can possibly determine the age of ducks? Glad you asked.)

My neighbor replied that the ducks don’t have any feathers. To which the animal control lady decisively said, “They’re teenagers.”

I’d never heard of teenage ducks, but I guess it makes sense. She continued to say that teenage ducks behave very similarly to teenage youth.

Seriously?

She surmised that these ducks were mostly likely asserting their independence from their mom and taking a whimsical adventure for the afternoon. They had probably wandered further than anticipated and just needed to be walked home and reunited with their mom.

But where is that? They must’ve found their way home because they haven’t come back.

I digress. Back to the chickens.

This morning I called animal control to see what my options are.

Apparently, it’s ILLEGAL TO RELOCATE CHICKENS!!!

Are you KIDDING ME?

She explained that feral chickens are a big problem here. I told her I’m aware of that – my kids’ school has close to fifty chickens roaming around campus. But this is different.

This is my not-so-very-big BACKYARD!

Sleep-deprived and desperate, I pleaded with her, “What can we do?”

She responded that legally she cannot give me advice or options, but the Humane Society will take them for free with no questions asked if I bring them in.

Incredulous and for the sake of clarity, I asked, “So what you’re saying is that I’m supposed to CHASE these chickens down, CATCH these chickens, with their CLAWS and BEAKS and COMBS and WATTLES, and then I’m supposed to figure out how to PUT these chickens in my MINIVAN and DRIVE them across town to you?”

“Yes.”

Did I forget to mention that this conversation came on the heels of my son announcing to me that he was going to SWIM WITH SHARKS this afternoon and he’d see me later.

Apparently, there’s some guy on the North Shore that will take you on his boat and let you swim with sharks…WITHOUT A CAGE!

Really? What parenting book prepares us for this stuff? 

Welcome to my world. This explains my ongoing battle with gray hair and why I always have a secret stash of candy in my bedside table.

Not sure what we’re going to do about the chickens.

Any humane ideas we should consider?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…” Psalm 24:1

 

 

 

 

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What Really Matters to Our Kids

I have a couple of confessions to make. Here it goes. Deep breath. First, my kids ate cereal for dinner twice this week…. TWICE! And, we had Taco Bell another night. Secondly, as a mom, I’ve come to realize I can’t do it all. Honestly, I’ve tried and failed miserably.

Moms, would you agree that some days we’re just trying to hold the family together? Helping kids with homework, driving the nightly Uber to sports practices, breaking up fights, keeping up with laundry, cooking meals, entertaining toddlers and scouring the house searching for enough popsicle sticks for your child’s project that happens to be due the next day. (Yes, with just days left in the school year, this did happen.)

For years as a mom, I wavered between exhaustion and guilt, striving to do it all so I could at least have the appearance of having it all together (Key word: appearance). Let me be honest with you, that level of perfection is a sham.  It’s unattainable. Exhausting. And not really that important.

Not once, have my kids complained that the house wasn’t vacuumed or the dishes sat in the sink overnight. They don’t complain about the dusting of beach sand covering my floors either (although, that one really bothers me). I’ve come to be happy with a moderately clean house, unimpressive meals and a philosophy of, “If you want a drink, wash your own cup.”

My conclusion after many years of conversations with countless moms, we’re too hard on ourselves. Cut yourself some slack, mamas! Don’t cower in shame, carry condemnation or relentlessly compare yourself to other moms.

If we’re to be really truthful, most of the expectations are those we place on ourselves. We compare ourselves to an ideal picture of motherhood that is unattainable for anyone to achieve.

Years ago, I read a precious devotional by Ruth Bell Graham and her daughter, Gigi, titled Mothers Together. In this devotional, Gigi asked one of her sons what a home was and how he would describe it.

His response was perfect,

“Home is a place where you come in out of the rain.”

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I sincerely believe if we do that, we win.

If we create a safe place, rich in love, laughter and affirmation, our kids will grow up to be just fine.

If we give them a refuge to come to when they encounter life’s storms, they will know the importance of providing love and comfort to others.

If we provide them with a place to talk, be themselves and even cry sometimes, they will learn the value of authenticity and respect.

Motherhood – it’s difficult, heart-wrenching, tearful, messy, joy-filled and beautiful. It gives us the opportunity to shape a little heart. To etch God’s loving truth forever into their souls. And, like wet cement it will solidify over time, providing them with a solid foundation on which they can build their lives.

Dear mother, you are enough. Enter the abundance of God’s grace.

Don’t listen to the voices nagging you, “do better” or “try harder”. That’s not God’s voice speaking to you. Here are the words Jesus speaks to his children, to YOU,

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

Jesus doesn’t place an endless list of expectation on moms. There’s not a “prescription” to follow for creating a well-rounded child. There isn’t a “Christian Mom” to-do list for you to earn an Awesome Mom award.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Throughout scripture, we see Jesus taking away regulations and requirements. He’s the best at reminding us to pare our lives down and focus on the essentials, the non-negotiables.

Jesus’ yoke is not a crushing burden. It’s not an extensive to-do list. It’s an invitation to love Him, trust Him and extend that love to others. As mothers, that’s our most important  task: to model for our children a loving, life-giving relationship with God that makes Jesus attractive to them.

As Elisabeth Elliot once said,

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” 

Trust for God’s grace and goodness to flow out of your incompleteness today. You got this. You are enough, because He is more than enough.

Graduation and a Mama’s Growing Pains

May has an emotional month. I’m trying to hold myself together, plow through and not let it get to me, but frankly, sometimes I can’t help it. I find myself a little weepy, vacillating between tears of joyful pride and a longing for my kids to be little again.

My oldest son graduates high school today and in just a few days, my youngest child leaves elementary school for the daunting middle school experience. For the time being, it’s extra Kleenex and waterproof mascara for me.

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I realize my job as a parent is to prepare my children to eventually leave our home. To fly out of the nest and make their own little nest apart from me. Ooohh, but the reality of it is painful sometimes. Something inside me wants to keep them little, contained, to control them. Strapping them in their car seat was much easier than standing at the front door watching them fasten their own seatbelt and drive away!

I want to remind them how much they need me by recalling all of the things I’ve done for them. “Would you like me to walk you to class one more time? Remember when you couldn’t sleep and were afraid of the dark? What about that homework you didn’t understand? Who was there to talk with you when your heart was broken? How are you going to navigate this ginormous world without me?”

As an artist approaches his marble slab searching to discover the masterpiece hidden inside, as a mom I’ve spent years chipping away marble, smoothing rough edges, drawing out the uniqueness of each of my children, working to release their full God-given potential. I’ve gently handled these precious masterpieces God has entrusted to me with extreme care. Now, just like that, I’m supposed to let them go?

My kids have been a part of every day of my life for years, how am I supposed to be ready for this? How can I be expected to disconnect my emotions like some robot?

I keep reminding myself that more desirable than keeping them little, I aspire to see them become. To grow to become everything God created for them. To walk with them (Although I promise I won’t hold your hand in public), to love them (I promise I won’t kiss you in front of your friends), develop them and teach them to love God and love others in a healthy way. A way that values people and reflects their value before God. To live in a way that honors God and makes Him smile.

So in the meantime, I’ll keep wiping my tears and sniffling my way through the next few days, holding onto memories as precious treasures tucked in my heart.

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Congratulations kids. Even though I may look like a wreck right now, I’m incredibly proud of each of  you – of all you’ve accomplished, all you aspire to be and, most importantly, the beautiful people you are.

As you venture into the big world lying before you and embrace new opportunities, this is my prayer for you,

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

Shine brightly, dear children. And don’t forget to call your mom.