Several weeks ago, as we were gathering eggs all around the property, one of the kids noticed that our hen, Hosanna, was sitting on a clutch of eggs. This wasn’t necessarily uncommon, as hens will do this, especially if they’ve found a place a little out of the way to incubate eggs. We hadn’t thought to look for eggs where Hosanna was laying as she was in the attic of our storage room, nestled right in the pink insulation! We knew that it takes three weeks for a baby chick to hatch, so we decided to check on her everyday and bring up food and water to make sure she was taken care of. And so the wait began.
We’d go up the stairs to the old, rickety deer stand, making sure we stood on the studs and not the ply wood, as it was in serious disrepair. Then one of the kids would crawl to the right into the open space where the attic is and leave Hosanna food. The water we’d leave in the deer stand so it wouldn’t tip over and spill onto the ceiling of the storage room below.
Last year, we incubated a whole host of eggs and Hosanna was one of the few that actually hatched. On Palm Sunday. So here we were one year later, three weeks before Easter, and Hosanna was sitting on her own clutch. Of all the forty chickens we have, it happened to be Hosanna who was broody. The significance was dazzling.
The day before Easter the first chicks began to hatch! I enjoyed going up the steps, peering my head into the attic and having one of my courageous children, who would be lying up in the attic near Hosanna, gently show me another one of the puffy chicks who had just emerged from their egg. Life is so miraculous. At the end of the day, seven chicks had hatched, one was pipping and there were several more eggs under Hosanna. The next day, being Easter Sunday, we were due to go to Houston to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection with family, so I was a bit concerned about the babies. The eighth had hatched and Hosanna was still sitting on more eggs and one more was pipping, so we figured all would be well. We were gone all day and it was dark when we returned. Jeremiah went up to the attic anyways with a flashlight to check on everyone and returned, announcing that he had seen chicks still under Hosanna. All was well.
The next morning, as I was enjoying a cup of coffee, I heard a distinct cry coming from the barn. I knew what it was even before I had time to throw on my rain boots, as Diesel and Mira, our livestock guard dogs, greeted me enthusiastically. I ran out to the barn, as chickens scurried to me from all directions and Diesel stayed by my side. The chirping call of a baby bird in distress. It was like playing a game of hot and cold, knowing that time was precious, because if the dog or the chickens found it before I did, it was all over. I was in the yard between the barn and the chicken coop and I could hear the little guy peeping. I looked down between the hens and our roosters and there was the little yellow puff of a chick. One chicken pecked it and Diesel noticed it, but I scooped him up quickly and held him to my chest as he cried in fear. But he was fine, unhurt! I swung my leg over the wooden fence by our barn, holding the chick with one hand and still holding my coffee cup with half a cup of coffee in the other hand.
I ran inside to rouse my kids and let them know we needed to move the chicks to a safe place. But when they went up the steps to the attic, there were only four baby chicks underneath Hosanna. Three were missing. We looked around the property, but couldn’t find a trace of them. I resolved that they must have been eaten. Diesel and Mira were amazing livestock guardians, but given the chance, I knew they would devour a baby chick in one gulp. I told my children the reality of life and death and that we’d better make sure that no one else died. But my children were praying.
We made up a cozy place in our bath tub for the five baby chicks, with a heat lamp. The kids sat in the tub with them naming the chicks. But the yellow chick I’d found I named Journey. Every so often, I’d send one of them up to the roof to check on Hosanna and that last baby chick that was still hatching. Thaddaeus returned shouting something and Jeremiah raced outside. I ran out, wondering what he’d said. I think he said he heard something! When I arrived at the base of the stairs, I found Jeremiah trying to pry the metal side of the outside wall of the barn with a crow bar.
“I hear one!” he cried. “In the wall!”
And sure enough, I heard the peeping cry of a baby chick inside the wall of the storage room. One must have fallen through a hole in the attic and was trapped between the inside wall of the storage room and the outside wall. How in the world could we get to it? We would have to somehow remove the wall to reach it. I looked around at the great pile of lumber stacked up against it. We would have to move it, so I ran back to the house to get some gloves, praying for success as I went.
When I returned, I found my son pulling back a section of the metal wall. I approached to help and he handed me a black chick, and then a yellow one, and then a black one! All alive and crying! The three that were missing!
Being on a farm has developed a certain tenderness in all of our hearts for the animals in our care. I know these are just birds. Just little insignificant puffs of fluff. But we love them and we invest in them and we truly mourn when they’re lost or they die and we genuinely rejoice when we find them and they live.
There was much rejoicing in our home that day when all four chicks were found. But can you imagine the greater joy when people, created in the image of God, who have been lost to the bondage of sin and the evil one are found?
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:39-40
There is hope today for the most hopeless of situations. There is salvation available to the one who has fallen. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has come to seek and to save that which is lost. And those He seeks shall be found at last!