MaryLou Hits the Restart Button

Week 16 — Can Chickens be Kind?


Among last week’s challenges to keep us building our new life blueprint, we started “Franklin’s Makeover” by choosing one of 13 virtues that we felt needed the most work in our lives. In order to increase that virtue, we focused on finding as many examples of it in our own lives and in every aspect of the world around us. Remember, what you focus on, grows!

This week, we added a twist – we are all focusing on “Kindness,” over 300 of us from around the world, to see how often we can observe it, and therefore, how much of an impact we can make. So what exactly are we looking for? I went to William Bennett’s “The Book of Virtues,” a collection of stories illustrating the ten that he chose to highlight. Unfortunately, “kindness” was not listed in the ten, so I fell back on another favorite source, the dictionary.

“Kindness” is the quality or state of being kind.  Don’t you love tracking down truth!  How many ways does “kind” present itself? 1. of a friendly nature, generous, hospitable, warmhearted, good; 2. charitable, helpful, showing sympathy or understanding; 3. humane, considerate; 4. forbearing, tolerant, 5. courteous, thoughtful; 6. generous, liberal; 7. agreeable, beneficial. Since “compassion” was in Bennett’s list, I checked its meaning, and found that “compassionate” is a synonym for kind.

In the section on “Compassion” I found a quote from Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Compassion is a natural feeling, which, by moderating the violence of love of self in each individual, contributes to the preservation of the whole species. It is this compassion that hurries us without reflection to the relief of those who are in distress.” From this description, perhaps “kindness” could be seen as a step in the direction of compassion?

By now you may be wondering what in the world all this has to do with chickens!  Just this. I bought four chicks last fall, two of which were about a week or so older than the other two. One of the younger was smaller and I had to watch her for a few days to make sure she would survive. They were in a small cage away from the laying hens until they outgrew it, then were moved outside into a larger fenced corner of the pen.

As is the nature of chickens (very much like teenage girls, I think) the smallest one suddenly found herself attacked by one or more of the other three, lost all her little tail feathers and had a bloody wound on her back. So into isolation cage she went, still in the bigger outside pen, but safe from the others. I tried letting her out after she’d started to heal, but she was hurt again, so back into her cage, while her “sisters” were set free to roam with the other hens.

One evening, several days later, when I went out at dusk to move her cage into the shed, and close the henhouse door, I found one of the other young ones sitting on top of her cage, keeping her company, while the other two had gone in with the hens. Can chickens be kind?

I’d never witnessed it before, in all the years I’ve been around chickens, but I believe “Red” (the largest and probably oldest of the four) demonstrated some measure of kindness that night. When it happened again the next night, I decided it was time little “Peeps” could safely rejoin the gang, and they have been thriving together ever since — I call them my Four Musketeers. Whenever I watch them enjoying their search for edibles in the field together, I am reminded of how God can illustrate His loving-kindness even in the least likely of his creatures.


Author: masterkey4MaryLou

Who am I? I have to think about that...a loner who really likes people, a "tomboy" more comfortable in jeans who enjoys dressiing up, a country girl who is fascinated by city life (for a few minutes anyway), a writer who would rather read, a homebody who looks forward to traveling (my goal next year-a river cruise in Portugal), a conservative with a liberal heart, a Bible student intrigued by the new mind other words, a simple 74-year-old full of contradictions, still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. Also, must confess to being addicted to Coast-2-Coast radio when I can't sleep (except October, when the dark side takes over).

4 thoughts on “Week 16 — Can Chickens be Kind?

  1. Howdy Girl,
    Love what I read and that you’re still very active. Love to get together some time. Ya want to come over for dinner and a visit?
    I just read this morning in The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham about how he leads with love in all things. I was thinking how I need to incorporate that in my life more and more. Your opening paragraph ends with “Remember, what you focus on, grows”. So combining the two I came up with “What would Love do?” And in that same moment I realized that was just another way of saying, “What would Jesus do?”


  2. That’s a great story Marylou even the chickens can be kind, you can even see it sometimes even different species will nurse babies from other species.


    • Thanks, Lourdes, Yes, I love the stories of interactions between species, especially the one recently on the internet about the dog that found an abandoned new-born child and carried it back to her own litter to care for it. God’s loving-kindness can be seen in so many places if we just keep looking. Blessings!


  3. Loved your story about the chickens. So great to hear know that chickens are caring and compassionate.


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