In my little corner of the world, there are 7 goats, 18 hens, 4 roosters (4 too many, if you ask me, but my son loves his chickens), one black bunny named Violet, and a property struggling to undergo renovation. The paint on some of the sheds needs updating and the newer garden spaces are empty and awaiting their compost, mulch — and, of course, the plants themselves.
We moved the goat barn and have plans to enlarge my secret garden (Yay!) in order to put in a fire pit along one wall. The new greenhouse is built and just waiting for the right covering to be installed so I can get underway, but honestly, we may not be able to start using it until the Fall. The kind of “dinaglass” we want is hard to come by right now, so the question lingers whether we should wait or just throw some plastic over it so we can get started.
Amidst all of the planning, hammering, and general mayhem, one of the hens went missing. A gorgeous young Brahma named Lama-Brahma.
She is my son’s favorite. And did I mention, he loves his chickens?
A missing hen in my little corner of the world pretty much means one thing, because across the country road is a big field where a pack of coyote lives. When I walk out in the hushed hour before dawn to write in my studio, I regularly encounter raccoons returning to their den, and skunks waddling for their hidy-holes. Eagles and hawks soar overhead during the day, on constant lookout for a tasty morsel like Lama-Brahma. We’ve had mountain lions and bears, turkey vultures and falcons, not to mention the foxes. Good grief, the foxes!
So when Lama Brahma went missing, my son sent up a howl that shook the great cottonwoods that surround our house.
Did I mention that our chickens are my son’s pets?
Inwardly, I lamented our poor choice of companion animal — the prey of the world! Just about impossible to protect unless you keep them under lock and key, and even then, some critter is inevitably hungry enough, desperate enough, or just flat out strong enough to tear through your best laid defenses.
But on this night of the great howling and shivering of the trees, I stood quietly tuning in to Lama Brahma, and then out of my mouth popped the words, “She’s ok. And she’s somewhere on this property.”
My husband shook his head and said, “There were some workmen out on the road today. I bet they called her over, and because she’s friendly she went, and then they took her home.”
As a theory, this made good sense, for there were no strewn feathers anywhere and no sign of struggle. And yet…
I shook my head and said again to my son, “Nope. She’s here. I can feel it.”
He watched me quietly through his tears, and then he went very still. “Tune in yourself, and you’ll see what I mean,” I said to him. And over the next long breaths, he sat quietly in his papasan chair (his pteranadon nest) and tuned in. “You know what, Momma? You’re right. I think she’s alive too.”
Now normally, this is not something I would ever do. To give such a guarantee over a missing chicken to a grieving child? No.
But in that moment, it was simply so clear to me that I didn’t even question it. It wasn’t wishful thinking, it was intuition. Also in that moment, something else — something even more important — had just happened:
I can do this… and so can you. Just tune in, and discover for yourself the truth of the situation…
Three days went by. No chicken.
At the end of the third day, I wondered how on earth this was going to turn out. Where was that fat little hen hiding?! If she was stuck somewhere, she was without food, without water. For three days? Ay-yi-yi!
We scoured the property from top to bottom, searched high and low, examined every nook and every cranny we could find — and still no chicken.
Late in the afternoon of the fourth day, my son noticed one of the roosters acting funny. He was dancing around out in the goat pen, though there was no hen anywhere to be seen. Curious, my son went to get a closer look.
Sure enough, as he got closer to where the rooster was dancing, he saw a little grey feather sticking out from behind the chicken coop. There was some leftover lumber from building the greenhouse that had been leaning against the back of the coop, and then gotten blown over in the wind. Lama was trapped between the lumber and the coop. Right next to her was a small puddle from the recent rains, and when my son lifted the lumber away, there she sat, a bit filthier than usual, but completely intact.
First, instinct, at the level of the body.
Then intelligence, over and through the landscape of the mind.
Finally, intuition, and the deep waters of the soul.