Walking through the property the other day, I noticed a bunch of feathers on the ground. First thought, “Great, we lost our chickens again.” Immediately I went into detective mode, looking for tracks and feces and maybe even a dead carcass if I was lucky. I went to look at our portable coops and tractors only to find pathetic looking chickens. That’s right, they were molting. It got me thinking about one of my favorite movies as a kid, The Wizard of Oz.
You know the one. The wicked witch, green painted face, is crouching and screeching, “I’m melting, I’m melting.” One minute she’s there, this powerful evil presence, and then in a second, she’s nothing but a pile of steaming clothes. Everyone remembers the witch melting, but do you remember what happens after? Once the evil obstacle was removed, we watched Dorothy grow up, confront her fears and learn to appreciate all that she had.
Its no secret to most people who know me that I think in metaphors. This whole molting/melting thought made me realize that this is exactly what we are going through here on our homestead. This time a year ago, we were so busy running the dairy that we had no time to put in a garden. We were monetarily successful. We went to the Homesteaders Of America Conference and came back successful. I mean, Jason got a chance to teach JOEL SALATIN! Successful, right? We were on a roll.
Then came the series of downfalls. First, the dairy owner ran out of money, so no dairy job for us. So Jason started the process to work for the post office. Then came the catastrophic accident that claimed our farm truck, and almost our son. Then not one but two mail jeeps became inoperable. It was definitely a a time to throw up our hands and quit!
But that’s just not in our nature. It’s not in our DNA. We don’t know how. So, we sat down as a family and made the choice to regroup and change things up. I now realize that this was our time of molting.
Most people think of molting as just an inconvenient time where your animals are weaker and not productive. But here’s the thing about molting that most people forget. Molting is sign of growth. When the animal is done molting, it comes back stronger, prettier and more productive. Its a time to shed off the old to make way for the new.
I look at all of the recent struggles as our time of molting. Right now we look like the scrawny, featherless unproductive hens that I see in our laying coop. But now is our time to shed off all of the old ways and attitudes to make way for the stronger, prettier and more productive homestead. Things are already coming together. I hope you will be there with us when we come out on the other side.