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The Prodigal Chicken


By Ethan Lail

One very cold and overcast day in January, Ethan was attending to his afternoon chores of putting up the chickens in their shed and giving them fresh water and food. Lately, the chickens had been escaping from their enclosed pen to discover new places to find bugs, worms, and feed – from scratching under trees near the small creek to the shrubs and bushes by the fence near the tractor barn. But usually they were all back at the pen by dusk o’clock. That was their time to go to roost for the night.

After he had given the chickens their water, he started counting them by name. There are six red, six black, two brown Welsummers, and two speckled Sussex chickens in the flock. When he finished counting, he realized one was missing: a speckled Sussex named Precious. Okay, she must still be out around the corner by the shed building, he thought. But when he looked, she was not there. Further investigation would be necessary.

So, Ethan, little brother Calvin, and mother Allison, with flashlights and a feed scoop, went on the search for the missing Precious. It was growing darker by the minute, and it’s very important to have the chickens in a safe place overnight. They first searched the areas where the chickens had been wandering. They looked in trees, no chicken. They looked under bushes, no chicken. Then looked in, on, and under trailers; no chicken. They looked in the tractor barn, still no chicken.

Now it was really getting dark, so they had curtail the search without finding the missing Precious. Mom sad, “It’s getting too dark to look for her. Let’s hope that she found somewhere safe to roost for the night. Send a prayer for her tonight before going to bed. Nature’s instinct is to find safety before night.” “Okay, yeah,” Ethan thought half heartedly.

So the family went in to have their evening meal; the boys had their bath and reading time, and went to bed, still worried about the missing Precious. Prayers were lifted by the concerned family members for her safe return in the morning.

The next morning, Ethan put on his coat and boots, as usual, to go take care of his chickens, mumbling that the weather was going to be just like yesterday – rainy and cold. These were not the chickens’ favorite weather conditions.

He went outside to attend to the morning chores and let the chickens out of their shed for the day. But just before he opened the gate to the pen, he heard a noise – like talking. And this was not the normal morning talks the chickens gave to him as he opened up the chicken shed. This was different clucking; chicken clucking!

He turned around, and walking up the driveway from the creek next to the pen was the missing speckled Sussex chicken Precious! With delight, and an air of perturbance, hands on his hips, he asked, “Where have you been?” Precious was chattering, “Let me just tell you about my night!” Overjoyed, Ethan hurried to greet her. He let Precious in the coop pen to eat, and quickly finished his chores, letting the others out of the shed. It was a glorious reunion among the flock, with much clucking and greetings! Ethan couldn’t wait to run inside and tell his dad that Precious had returned!

Later in the day, Ethan’s mom had the opportunity to teach a valuable lesson in life. She advised him never to go off on his own without letting his parents know where he was going and when he would be back. Ethan understood clearly, as he had just experienced the worry that any parent would feel in such a situation.

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