Ever since I got here, I wanted to build a chicken coop. It makes perfect sense for me. Fresh eggs, the prospect of building something and the smell of live chickens right outside my door — OK, that last one was more of a detractor than anything else.
As the year progressed, my cohort Darren and I ran out of steam on the whole build-a-chicken-coop idea. We had school all day long and the only thing that we wanted to do when we limped exhausted into our weekends was stretch out our hammocks and relax under a coconut tree.
I rounded up all of the scrap wood we had gathered for the coop and started thinking of things I could use it for.
“Hey, Darren,” I said one day while I was over visiting the dorms. “What would you say if I told you that I think we should scrap the whole coop idea? I could build a shelf out of the wood instead.”
“Um, OK,” Darren said. “I guess that I am cool with that.”
We shook hands because it seemed more professional and I went outside to walk to my house. I read a book as I walked so I didn’t notice the mother hen and her group of chicks standing in my front yard until I had almost stepped on them.
I lowered the book from my eyes and stared in disbelief. Was this some sort of miracle? Some sort of divine intervention?
Laughing, I sprinted back to the dorms.
“Darren!” I shouted. “You have to come and see this!” Darren slapped on some flip flops and ran out to see what I was shouting about.
“Wow,” he said. “Maybe God is telling us that if we build a coop, chickens will come.”
Darren and I had a quick council on whether it was ethical to keep the mamma hen and her little chicks or not. All of our learning about chickens came from a children’s book that was taken from Rita Elementary, but we felt pretty confident in our decision being well informed.
On one hand, the chickens were obviously someone’s, but on the other hand, there were at least six chicks that were small and vulnerable. These little chicks might not even make it to the egg-bearing age so what if we just took a couple of the chicks and raised them safely and properly we would be like their guardian angels. We would be doing a service! And then, after 8 months of fresh eggs, we could even return those chickens to the rightful owner.
The logic worked, at least for us, and Darren and I got a basket and prepared to chase down the chicks.
In our over-grown yard, it is surprisingly difficult to grab a little chick. They routinely disappear under weeds and into thickets. We sweated and labored under the hot, tropical sun trying to corral us a chick.
Finally we got the mamma hen and all of her chicks cornered between a fence and a wall. We moved in low and fast to grab us a couple of birds.
“Yokwe,” came a voice from over the wall. Darren and I stopped in our tracks. We looked up to the wall and peering over its edge was a young man.
“Oh, hello,” I mumbled.
“The mamma hen is chirping because she is worried for her baby chickens,” the young man said.
“Yeah,” I said. “Hey, do you know whose chickens these are.”
“They are mine,” he said.
“Well, good to know,” I said. “We were just capturing them — to give them back...”
“It is OK, you can leave them there.”
Darren and I started to walk back into the dorms. Half-way across the yard I turned back to the young man.
“Hey, you think we could buy a chick or two?”
“Maybe you ask again when they are grown up and I know which are girls and which are boys.”
“Sounds good, neighbor,” I said.
So, I guess that if you build a chicken coop, the chickens will come, just make sure they are not your neighbor’s.
The love you give comes back in the end.