Seems like everyone I know who has kids has, at some point, wished to stop time. When the little one stands on her own for the first time. When the last kid has Senior Night for football.
I used to joke with my kids that I was going to put a brick on their head to keep them from getting any taller. I think one of my daughters thought I was serious! She would tell me, “You can put a brick on my head, or even cancel my birthday, but you just can’t keep me from growing. It’s going to happen no matter what!”
I’m sure her 4-year-old hands were on her hips and her lips were sternly pursed. She meant business.
As parents, we watch our children grow, are proud of their accomplishments, and mourn when a sweet phase is ending. We are blessed with a short memory on how hard those sleepless nights are and how crazy our threenager made us when he figured out he could say no with a foot stomp.
Anyone who has met me knows that I have a growing love for farm animals. It started with chickens – the gateway animal – and has moved on to dairy goats, ducks, and soon bees and pigs. I love being connected to my food, and using animals to cultivate my garden. I love the lessons my children are learning about responsibility and that there are things that must be done whether we feel like it or not.
Recently, we noticed a drop in egg production from our layer hens. It’s to be expected this time of year. When there’s less daylight, the chickens go from laying every 1-2 days to every 3-4 days. The problem is, I thought some of my new pullets (young hens) would have started laying by now to make up for the drop in the big girls’ production, but they haven’t. That means, for our family of 7, we were only getting 4-6 eggs a day and that’s just not enough for us.
At the same time, my friend Julie is scaling back her homesteading as her children are all grown and off on their own, so she was parting with some of her breakfast-makers. After talking some with her, it made sense for us to rehome some of her quality layers rather than adding eggs to our grocery budget each week.
Now, I’m a pretty good gardener, but even I haven’t been able to find success with planting my money tree…..and my little boys are growing and eating machines!
I worked something out with my friend and the hens came to our barnyard yesterday. It was nice to catch up with her and swap what worked for her chickens and what I noticed about mine over the last few years. We talked about how to know who was done laying and what to do with extra roosters. I love hearing what other people add to make their stock amazing and life giving.
As she was packing up, I thanked her for the chickens, promised we’d settle up soon, and that I was looking forward to getting our egg count up back up. She looked at me and said, “I like helping your family. I remember how hard it was when they were little.”
It struck me. In that moment, she relived the moments when she wished time would stop. She was able to enter back into those, now rose-colored memories. She could feel her son’s chubby little hand in hers, and see her daughter collecting fuzzy daffodils…or wish makers. She remembered the sun coming through the trees as they raked leaves and collecting eggs for her own family breakfast.
And it really was that perfect and peaceful and magical. Memories are, of course.
By sharing my need, accepting her help, and engaging in community, my family and my struggles became the “brick” on the heads of her memories. This chicken in my coop had managed to stop time.