Monday, November 24, 2008

Invisible Kindnesses

Photo by landre via flickr

I wrote about the peacefulness of our little microcosm here in my backyard and today I had one more of those moments.

When I go to let the chickens out in the morning it is usually just after dawn. The sun is up but it's still early and quiet. Except for the birds and the squirrels. They've been running around, chasing each other in the trees, looking for food and water and ready to warm up in the sun after a long cold night.

Before my guys come out I rake out the coop, put down the "fresh" and their feed. I get fresh water for their bowl and dump out the old. When we had the early snow this past week, we've made sure to fill up the bird feeders and put out a pan of water for the songbirds too. Lately it's been so cold at night that both water pans have a thick layer of ice on top in the morning.

Having fresh water is so important to the local birds and wildlife, especially in the cold. And it's such an easy thing to provide. All you need is a basic container, any shape, but about 6 inches deep is good. Then fill it up and set it out. Simple. Even if you don't have seed or food, water will be appreciated by the locals. And a good bush or shrub to hide in, so let those grow out a bit too if you can.

But back to today.

Once I let the chickens out of the coop the girls usually walk around the yard, check out the fresh food, scratch in the feed and flap their wings a bit (these are such basic things I'm happy to provide for my chickens when so many others don't even get that minimum). Napoleon, however, chooses to follow me around while I clean up the inside of the coop. I shake out his bucket and the hay the girls snuggle down into at night and he watches me while alternating between the inside with me and outside with the girls. His favorite thing lately, though, is to jump up on my knee while I'm in the doorway of the coop. He snuggles there for a bit while I watch the girls walk around and usually get their morning drink.

Today we had a little visitor during this routine.

While I was standing there a little bird, I'm not even sure what kind, came and landed on the coop yard fence. He/she saw me in the doorway and peered at me with curiosity rather than fear. He jumped from the branch to the fence and wasn't sure if it was safe but really wasn't sure it wasn't either. After a few minutes, and because I was standing still and quiet, he decided all was well and landed on the rim of the water pan. For several minutes he dipped his beak and drank his fill of the fresh water. The chickens were still roaming around and I was about 4 feet from him but we all were calm and in harmony.

It was a brief interlude but a nice one. Our little friend flew away, probably to get some seed. I let Napoleon jump down and headed into the house. It was a nice reminder of all the other animals who depend on us and our kindness even if we don't think about it intentionally or even see the recipients. How much more good could we do if we intentionally thought about sharing with them and bringing more of this peace into our hearts, minds and lives?

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