Morals from My Moa (Chicken)
On an outer island of Tonga in September 2021, Captains Selalina and ‘Eliesa Prescott were gifted a hen. Selalina shares with readers her delightful insights gleaned from caring for Speckles.
‘Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; and in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by’ (Psalm 57:1, NASB).
After Speckles lost her first brood of chicks, I found her lying outside in the rain, drenched and almost dead. For several days she could not perch or even open her eyes. She just lay down with her head drooping.
My husband ‘Eli and I used a syringe to feed her regularly with coconut milk and gave her penicillin dissolved in water. We only had a glimmer of hope that she’d make it, and we did what we could. With prayers and care, Speckles started trying to perch on low places, her eyes gradually opened and she started moving around. Finally, she was well enough to be released outdoors again. We were immensely grateful to God that she had survived.
Sparrows, chickens and second chances
Speckles had chicks again. This time three survived: two females, Kelo (brown) and `Uli`uli (black), and one male. While Speckles was raising her chicks, I was continually reminded that she’d been given a second chance. It reminded me of the movie Second Chances (1998), which is based on a true story. Various characters in the movie are given second chances in different ways. Caring for Speckles reminds me that God gives us second chances too. We all need a second chance sometimes. In Matthew 10:29–31, God tells us he cares for sparrows (chickens too), so how much more does he care for us?
The third time Speckles was brooding, our neighbour’s hen chased her off her eggs daily to lie there with her chicks. After two weeks of this, Speckles left her eggs for good. When ‘Eli checked her nest, there was only one egg! We wondered if perhaps she had started to lay eggs elsewhere, or perhaps an animal had eaten the eggs, or maybe she’d gone a bit cuckoo and had only laid one egg before brooding. During this season, ‘Eli joked that she needed to earn her keep—we would give her one more chance at raising chicks.
The comeback chicken
After that, Speckles disappeared for a while … and returned with 10 chicks. What a comeback! We were half wondering if she’d stolen another hen’s nest on which to brood. While they were still quite young, she chased them away and started laying eggs again. Six of these chicks have survived and are almost fully grown.
Most recently, Speckles had another six chicks but left them while they were still too young. After only a couple of days, one of our neighbour’s hens took them in. It was amazing how she treated them as her own, calling them to eat, and defending them from potential threats. Nobody could guess that they were not her own chicks.
Under God’s wings
Her caring for these extra chicks reminds me of Jesus’ sacrificial love for us: he chose to die on the cross to save us from our sins. Her care also speaks to me of the love we are called to give to others in need. What the hen did for those chicks was life-saving, a game-changer. ‘He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armour and protection’ (Psalm 91:4, NLT).
I had been watching the chicks to see where they’d sleep so that I could catch them to bring them into our warm house. I even tried to feed them extra food, but I was unable to care for them as that hen did.
This is how I am to care for those in need, although the actual way will vary depending on the situation. Micah 6:8 (MSG) sums it up, ‘But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what is God looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously’.
A burgeoning brood
Kelo and `Uli`uli now have their second lot of chicks. Both times when Kelo was brooding, another hen kept trying to chase her away and sit on her eggs! It seemed Kelo was on a lower pecking order than the other hen. Kelo’s loud angry noises would get my attention, so I tried to help her by chasing the other hen away. Thankfully after one whole day of this happening repeatedly, the hen got the message.
Now, after only a year and a half, we have 22 chickens. They are all descendants of one hen that was given a second chance. Reflecting on her journey and that of her descendants, I understand God’s love for us, although we are imperfect (and some of us have cuckoo moments). Sometimes the hens make unwise decisions, such as trusting pigs who eat chicks! But as I’ve seen from my moa (chicken), God is gracious, caring and loving. He is always there for us.
I have also seen commendable traits in my moa: resilience through hardship, to name one. I thank God for continuing to teach me morals from my moa.