Of Churches and Chickens

So, we were thinking we’d order chicks the first week we got to the new farm. God had other plans, as you can see from the pictures! Long story short, Nathan’s mom was having a rough run of it with her birds, and had just listed them for sale on Craigslist in PA, (her current home state) when we came for a visit. Nathan heard that, and we adopted them straightaway! 15 “red” hens for laying eggs, and 1 rooster affectionately named “Steve”. And 27 Cornish Cross meat birds, only a few weeks old!

The layer hens in their new pasture

You know your mother loves you when she endures a 5 hour car ride with 43 stinky chickens in the back, just to move them to your new place.

Moving our 27 meat birds into a larger home

It was the feast of the Assumption before we got them out of their temporary housing and into their barn/pasture living space. You can see a video of that process, and our adorable chicken – herding toy poodle, here. With barely enough time to get ready for Mass, I said a few hasty prayers that they would be safe (since we hadn’t really predator-proofed everything perfectly).

Remy, the excited chicken-herding toy poodle

What should we find when we returned, but that four chickens were missing! It was with great consternation that Nathan and I confirmed the count. Four were gone. Flown the coop, as they say. But, Mother Mary is such a tender mother, she could not let us be discouraged for long, especially on her day. Tarsus quickly located them in another barn close by, all huddled together. So much for the excitement of that day. Nathan clipped their wings to prevent another such occurrence, and that was that.

The layers like their new feeder!
Steve the rooster and his hens

Eventually we’ll be building a mobile home for them (and I believe a few hundred other laying birds) on this, an old mobile home trailer which Nathan found for sale near Cinncinati. God provides!

The future foundation of the “Egg-Mobile”
The ‘Pieta’ carved out of the stump of an old tree in front of St. Nicholas Church

And now – the churches! Our first Sunday here was the day after the move. In the midst of all the chaos, we had a welcome breath of peace as we attended St. Nicholas Church in Sunman for the first time. It is a warm and inviting sacred space – exquisitely carved wood throughout, eye-catching statues of some more recent saints (i.e. Gianna Molla, JPII, and Mother Teresa), and a most intimate Perpetual Adoration chapel patterned after the Divine Mercy chapel in the convent in Poland where St. Faustina lived.

St. Nicholas Church, interior, at Easter

And what is the first thing I notice but a small plaque on the side where the priest and servers sit, which reads: “Delight in the Lord, and he will GIVE you the desires of your heart.” Another small sign of God’s favor, for Nathan had told me that when he discerned out of seminary, all he wanted was a wife, a big family, and a farm. God had seen fit to give Him the first two, but Nathan had pretty much given up on the third “desire”. But God knows the plans he has for us; all we need to do is delight in Him! 

Furthermore, the Gospel reading was none other than St. Peter walking on the water. I had often thought of this reading prior to our move, as many times it can seem intimidating, daunting, terrifying, petrifying (you catch the drift) to start up a farm from scratch, and attempt to cover the mortgage on the farm to boot. But all we need to do is have faith! “Lord, save me!” Maybe, if we never doubt in Him at all, we will never even begin to sink?

Another sign of encouragement from Our Lady came to us on her big feast, the Assumption. We went to church at the St. Joseph campus of All Saints Parish in St. Leon. And what should they have inside but a beautiful grotto to none other than Our lady of Fatima, the special patron of our farm! Statues of Our Lady and the three Shepherd children sit amidst an exquisite setting – a mural of the countryside on the two corner walls, and flowers and stones decorating the floor and above it all- as Tarsus noticed – a representation of the Miracle of the Sun, for which our farm is particularly named. I think it will prove to be a special place for us to take the petitions we carry most near to our hearts. 

The representation of Our Lady of Fatima (sun didn’t quite make it into the photo)

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