I called Addy early this morning, figuring that she would be up, and asked her if it would be okay to come by and bring along a little gift from Jada for her daughter’s birthday. I decided to use Addy’s method of teaching her children to give by having Jada pick out something of her own to give to her little friend as a gift. It had taken Jada a little time to figure out what she was willing to part with.
As she stood in her room that morning she looked around and sighed to me, “It’s just so hard to choose”! Finally she happily decided to give her friend a little Prayer Box necklace that has been a treasure of hers for a while. I was proud of her decision; I thought it was a perfect choice.
As we drove the 15-20 minutes to Addy’s house, Jada sat in her carseat excited about the surprise gift she had in her pocket. When we arrived on the farm the oldest daughter met us at the car with a smile, and told Jada that her friend was inside and excited to see her. Titus must have remembered the kittens he played with last time ’cause as soon as I opened his door to get him out he started saying, “Cat. Cat.”
We walked around to the back porch where the Mama Cat was nursing her kittens. Mrs. Addy stepped outside and said hello. We went inside to find Jada’s eight year old friend at the stove cooking breakfast for her “Pa”. She has her own little square cast iron pan which she loves to cook in. She was attentively frying eggs for an egg sandwich, while Addy stood close by looking on.
I asked Jada if she had given her friend the gift yet, and Jada quickly pulled it out of her pocket and gave it to her along with a “Happy Birthday”! Her friend was very excited when she saw the necklace, and Addy helped her put it on while she stood on her step-stool at the stove. The chain was a little too short, as Jada is quite a bit smaller than her, but she didn’t seem to mind and wore it anyway.
I watched as Addy gently guided her daughter in her task of making breakfast, reminding her to get this and that, and to use the cover for the hot handle, and praising her for remembering to turn the stove off when she was finished. What great pride, I thought, this little girl must feel to be able to sit her father down to a nice, warm breakfast all by herself. I’d love to give Jada that joy when she gets a little bit bigger.
Soon the kids were out the door and scattering on the farm. Addy needed to pick some blueberries for a friend, so I offered to help her. We got together some big bowls and walked down to the blueberry bushes. The bushes were full of bright blue berries, and I thought it would be no problem gathering a gallon of them pretty quickly. I was ready to start picking away, but slowed myself as I noticed that Addy was studying the berries. I waited, and then she told me that we want to pick the berries that are closed at the bottom. Of course I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, so I asked her what she meant. She showed me the bottoms of the blueberries; some had a star like thing sticking out from the bottom, and some were completely smoothed out. She told me that they aren’t quite ripe until the bottom has “closed” and it’s completely smooth; no “star”.
Huh, and I thought I knew all I could about picking berries! So, after her examination, she decided that the bushes simply needed a little longer before they were ready to be picked. We did pick a small amount while talking and walking around the bushes, and little Titus couldn’t stay out of the bowls! He stuffed his cheeks with as many blueberries as he could grab in one chubby little fist full. (I had to keep an eye on him!)
Our two girls were having a great time playing. I first saw them over at the grape vines, evidently picking grapes to eat. Then I guess they went over to the apple trees ’cause I spotted Jada playing with a small apple in her mouth. Next they came over to us while we were at the blueberry bushes, and they pretended to be deer eating the berries right off the bushes using only their mouths to nibble them off the stem. What a joy it is to me to watch my little girl truly enjoying nature, carefree and content. I dream of recreating such an environment at my own home one day.
Addy and I went back inside and I noticed the incubator on her counter. My mother-in-law also has an incubator going with eggs in it, and I just recently learned a ton from her about chickens, and hatching eggs. Turns out my whole theory of how chickens and eggs work was completely wrong! (I guess a California girl like me has a lot to learn out here in the country!)
As I peeked through the lid at her eggs I laughed at my previous understanding of how eggs hatched, and felt like I should share my naivety with Addy. To humor her, I suppose.
You see, I guess I figured the way chickens and eggs worked was that a male and a female chicken would get together, and the hen would lay a bunch of eggs all at once. Then she would sit on the eggs and after some time the chicks would hatch. If you got an egg and cracked it before the chick had formed, it was edible.
Sounds logical, right? But I always wondered how to know which eggs were okay to eat, and which might have a chick in them. Boy, did I have a lot to learn! I don’t feel so dumb though, ’cause I explained that to my sister and she had always thought the same thing!
After my mother-in-law so patiently explained the whole process to me, and answered all of my silly questions here is what I now understand to be how it works:
Hens will lay an egg every day, with or without a rooster; but just one egg per day. Some eggs are fertilized, and some are not. Obviously the ones that are fertilized are when there is a rooster present. The unfertilized eggs are just dropped by the hen and left alone. These are the ones we eat. You can tell if an egg has been fertilized because the hen will start to scratch around to make a nest, and sit on the egg. It takes a few days before the chick begins to form in the egg. My mother-in-law showed me the chick inside of one of her eggs through a process called “candling”.
When I told Addy all of this she graciously smiled and added that hens produce eggs just like we do, and like ours if they are fertilized and incubated they will produce a baby. If they are not fertilized then they will just be dropped. I never thought of it like that!
Still curious about the whole incubation process I asked more questions. She told me that the eggs would be hatching Sunday afternoon. I said, “So, you’ll just come in here and there will be a bunch of chicks walking around in there?” She told me that they will begin to hear the chicks peeping from inside their shells, and then the chicks will begin pecking all around the perimeter of the egg. Soon after, the chicks will kick and squirm and push that top part of the shell off and finally come out, with their feathers all wet. She told me that in the mean time the eggs have to be turned twice a day; she uses an automatic egg turner in her incubator for that.
We sat in her living room for a long time after that, talking about many things. I think I will save those lessons learned for another time. I do want to say though that one of the big lessons that I have learned from Addy is to be happy to open my home up to guests even when I feel like it’s too small to entertain in, or it’s too messy, or it’s not fancy enough to be proud of. It reminds me of a quote from a book I’ve been reading, a cookbook called Extending The Table, which reads:
“Do we find the unexpected caller a welcome guest or a frustrating interruption? We deprive ourselves and others if we feel we must have the house free of clutter and our desks cleared of urgent business before we entertain guests. A simple beverage and an attentive ear will honor a stranger or a friend.”
That’s the way that Addy has been towards me and my children. She doesn’t tell me to give her time to straighten up before I come. She doesn’t tell me she’s too busy, or maybe another time. She just graciously lets me into her home, and kindly shares her time. I am ashamed to say that I have turned away friends who wanted to visit because I didn’t feel like my home was presentable. It is my goal to accept anyone into my home, at any time, and not be ashamed that it looks “lived in”. It is more important that I minister to others than worry about my appearance. And I know that this is how the Lord would have us to be.
Another visit too quick to end, more wisdom for a curious heart. Until next time…