A mid day gathering while the girls peck and scratch down by the creek.

I never meant to have chickens. And most certainly, neither did my wife. Yet I also never planned on racing to the hospital with an unconscious little girl. Perhaps i should start at the beginning…the genesis, if you will, of how i came to own, and love our flock of goofy chickens.

We are lovers of the outdoors, and somehow find pretty good excuses to spend most of our time there. At the time, my daughter was 5, and we lived in an old family home nestled atop a hill surrounded by forest save for the small side yard and garden plot. The chimes from the church above the orchard played every evening, and we would sit on the porch steps and listen to the sounds of old gospel hymns played out in bells. We loved our woods and our little garden, and here is where we spent most of our time discovering fairies and gnomes, and learning what nature had to teach us.

One day, after a morning in the yard, we took the forest path down the hillside to visit my parents. My daughter asked me to carry her halfway down as she was tired. We arrived at my parents and proceeded to sit in the recliner so she could eat a special snack and watch ‘Little Bear.’ As she lay in my lap i played with her hair and noticed a small bump that had not been there before. Parting her hair, i saw the tick. It was attached just at the hairline at the neck. Now….growing up in the mountains, we get our fair share of ticks in a lifetime. So i did just like i do with every other tick. As i removed it from her neck, my daughter went limp and unresponsive.
Fast forward to racing to the hospital….terrified.
She is okay, and the doctors explained it was unusual, but my daughter had suffered from tick paralysis. When a tick is attached on a nerve and then removed, sometimes it happens. She was treated and released.

Ticks…chiggers…fleas. all soon became my nemesis. Yet i refused to spray poison on the land that we loved so dearly. An old fellow down the road a piece let me in on a little secret. Enter the chickens.

Its been 9 years since that trip to the hospital. We have kept chickens ever since. We let them run free, grazing and pecking where they will. Contrary to what an egg carton says, chickens are not meant to be vegetarian. They eat worms, grass, fleas, chiggers, berries, snakes, mice,tomatoes, freshly planted beans and cabbage, and yes….ticks. i love our flock. They have a social hierarchy, clicks, friends, outcasts, and as i tend the garden each evening, i witness all of this. We give them a good life, and in return we recieve a beautiful kaleidoscope of eggs…and free pest control.

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