God’s Goodness

It has been an eventful week at the Oliver Farmhouse. Our “farming” is very small-scale and very much an experiment at this stage. We have 11 laying hens, 1 rooster, 14 pullets, 1 rare breed whose gender is still a mystery, and a bountiful garden that has as many weeds as it has vegetable plants.

It’s not a lot, but some days it feels like too much.

Like Monday.

Monday was a long day with news of unexpected expenses. When Chris was gathering eggs that evening, he discovered one of our hens was sick. She was hunched over and her comb was pale and droopy. We immediately separated her from the flock.

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Thursday was a reprieve full of sunshine and just the right amount of dirt. We moved our pullets and white-feathered mystery chick from the small starter coop into a bigger, more secure coop until they start laying when they’ll join the others.

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Friday. Friyay? More like Fri-no.

I had just put the girls down for a nap when I heard a very loud, very strange noise. As I got up and moved closer to the unfamiliar sound, I realized it was our Great Pyrenees, Samwise. He’s about eight months old and barks at cyclists, birds, sirens, tractors–you name it. But this wasn’t a normal Sam bark.

As I stepped out onto our enclosed back porch, I could still only hear Sam, but I could see another dog in the yard. When I found Sam, I realized that he was not injured, but was torn between his instinct to protect us and our flock and his knowing that he could not take on this unfamiliar foe.

I stepped inside for a moment to call Chris. When I returned, the dog had found the chickens. We have an electric poultry netting around the coop, but the ground was wet and the dog was running laps around the fence, cutting corners causing the fence to collapse a bit more with each round, with Sam close behind.

I have been so pleased with our rooster, Atlas. He sounds the alarm when a hawk is near, bringing Sam bounding through the yard to chase it away. If he finds bugs or other good grub in the yard, he gives the ladies first dibs. They fight over who gets to roost next to him at night.

I have never been so impressed with him as I was yesterday. He jumped the fence to defend his flock against the intruder. The dog took a bite out of his backside, leading me to believe from my limited view that he had killed him, but the next thing I knew, he was up and running again.

Not long after this, our neighbor came to collect his runaway. (He was very apologetic.) I went hunting for Atlas, but to no avail. I went to the coop to count chickens, but there were only four to be found.

Helplessly watching this animal wreak havoc on our animals was pretty traumatic. We know that losing livestock is part of farm life, and we’ve lost hens before to coyotes, possums, hawks, but I’ve not been a firsthand witness to these events.

I continued to search while Chris made his way home and finally found Atlas hiding under the car.

We found two hens in the garden.

The rest came back on their own throughout the course of the evening.

We didn’t lose a single animal. Atlas paid with his tail feathers. Samwise was brave and smart.

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Our sick hen was safe on the porch and our pullets, who were in a small, unsecure coop in the middle of the yard only hours before, were safely kept in a larger coop on the other end of the property. My children were upstairs in their beds.

It’s not a lot, but some days it feels like too much. Most days it takes more than we can handle to see God’s goodness.

God is…

Today I wrote down everything in my life that is frustrating and discouraging me. Then, in big letters, I wrote, “BUT GOD IS STILL GOOD. ALWAYS.”

Below is a list of words or phrases that follow the words, “God is…” in the Bible. I hope this encourages you.

God is…

with you

giving for you an inheritance

not man

a consuming fire

a merciful God

in your midst

God of gods and Lord of lords

he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory

making with you today [a covenant]

your dwelling place

providing you a place of rest

among you

my strong refuge

greater than all gods

gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him

for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him

greater than man

mighty

clothed with awesome majesty

a righteous judge

our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble

the King of all the earth

my helper

for me

a refuge for us

our salvation

good

the strength of my heart and my portion forever

a sun and shield

holy

the one you must fear

my strength and my song

an everlasting rock

righteous in all the works that he has done

in your midst, a mighty one who will save

able

true

one

for us

faithful

wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men

not a God of confusion but of peace

not mocked

not unjust

treating you as sons

light

greater than our heart

love

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.”  Psalm 136:1