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The GraciePress Newsletter - Even More Vintage “My Life With Gracie”!

The GraciePress Newsletter - Even More Vintage “My Life With Gracie”!
August 2022 is our 4-Year Anniversary Month! We started drawing pictures and writing stories to go with them as My Life With Gracie, a blog on WordPress, four years ago. Amazing! Even though we have moved from a blog to a newsletter, we are still very appreciative of you, our fans!
This month in the newsletter, we will look back at our original illustrations and stories from four years ago.

#009 My Life With Gracie…Giving Well
One of the earliest things I learned about baby chicks is they don’t train very well. (For example, when they poop, it’s anywhere. No litter box. No special spot. It’s anywhere.)
You may have seen a video of a chicken pecking out a song on a toy piano or performing a similar trick. Most chickens aren’t so clever, unless there is a strong association between doing something and getting food.
The only strong association my chickens ever made was between the sound of my back door closing and getting food. When they hear that sound, their “performing” starts with full force doing anything they can to attract my attention and to be the first to get food or a treat.
Being first is hugely important to chickens…and little children too…and probably most grown ups, if they were to tell the truth.
This was why I was so surprised to see some staying back and letting others have their choice of the tastiest bites first. Sometimes it did have to do with who was more assertive, but oftentimes not. There were times when letting others have their choice first could only be explained as a simple act of generous kindness.
There were some like the Brahma chicks who had to be first at everything, even going so far as to stand in the middle of the food dish, particularly when there were sprouted wheat or barley seeds. Yet they and my boy Lefty were the exception. (I am positive when he was a chick that Lefty dreamed of one day being a velociraptor!)
So this got me thinking. When you have nothing to give to someone, like when you can’t buy or make anything, giving them first choice to the biggest slice of cake (or dried mealworms) or first choice to the best seat (or perch) is really nice. It’s like saying, “You’re more important to me than being first.”
Gracie has always been good about standing back and letting others have first choice, but just to be truthful, she does have her moments. Gracie seldom lets anyone come between her and her banana! But I have seen it happen, and when it does, I see true kindness in her eyes. Maybe we all have things like Gracie and her bananas, and perhaps those are the truest tests of a giving heart.
My Life With Gracie showed me letting others have their choice first is a kind of giving.
#010 My Life With Gracie…Receiving Well
Caring for baby chicks everyday in their brooder box was tremendously fun. Nevertheless, I was relieved when it was time to move them into the great big outdoors. They are noisy!
Their world expanded tremendously. It also gave them a chance to see I was more than a big hand above them bringing food and water and checking their little bottoms for “pasty butt.” They saw their Chicken Daddy was a big 6 foot 2 inch 240 pound Protector and Provider!
They also had a chance to see how much they had their big old Chicken Daddy wrapped around their little baby feathers! Did I mind? Not really. But I noticed something different about Gracie when I started hand-feeding them in their new chicken run.
Summer corn is always a favorite. On the cob is good. Cut off of the cob and in a dish is better. But everyone knows cut off of the cob and then hand-fed tastes best!
Whenever I was hand-feeding the chickens, all of the others kept their eyes on the treats in my hand, but not Gracie. She kept her eyes on my face. Even with her most favorite treats, she kept her eyes on my face. She trusted me to get what she loved right to her without worrying over whether she would be overlooked or left out.
This trust, probably more than anything else, made me love her as “My Best Girl Ever.” This one simple act touched my heart more than the lump on her side, more than how she wasn’t as social as the others, and more than my concern she might never become an egg-laying hen.
Gracie just looked at my face and trusted me to guide treats right to her waiting beak. She wouldn’t take her eyes off of my face even when those treats were her favorite bites of banana. The others would eagerly follow my hand. Gracie’s gaze stayed fixed unblinkingly on my face.
Gracie is a much better receiver than I may ever be.
My Life With Gracie showed me how to look at the face and not at the hand of the giver.
#011 My Life With Gracie…On Giving Patience
Chickens and gardens go together…well, sorta, kinda, in a way.
They are great at scratching up weeds…but they can also scratch up and eat your seedlings.
They are great at digging in your soil…but they tend to just dig in one spot like a crater, not in a row. It would be nice if they worked like little tilling machines, but that isn’t going to happen.
Still, it is enjoyable when I’m preparing a new planting bed with some chicken helpers. Of course we have completely different objectives. I want to prepare the soil for seeds and seedlings. They want to find earthworms and bugs.
Chickens understand food really well. It’s like there are only two things in life: “food” and “not food.” Well, that’s not totally correct.
In their minds, it’s probably more like: “food” and “not quite food yet, but almost.” I get the feeling they would do just about anything to get the “not quite food” to become “food” as quickly as possible.
Chickens are quite impatient with garden crops. They are positively sure every cucumber and squash and especially watermelon is for them.
Their clucking sounds a lot like, “Why doesn’t someone remove this fence for us?!? Why doesn’t someone cut open this watermelon for us?!?” If I let them, they would eat every leaf off of the watermelon plants before the watermelons they love had time to grow and ripen.
To tell the truth, I’m often just as impatient as my chickens when it come to some things and perhaps even more impatient! There are times when I think patience just might be the greatest gift I can give…or receive.
My Life With Gracie convinced me patience is one of the hardest but most valuable gifts you can give.
Until Next Time…
Thanks so much for reading!
John, Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia
Did you enjoy this issue?
J.R. Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The GraciePress Newsletter brings you the latest news, stories, illustrations, special offers, and free gifts from Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia. They are the inspiration behind all of the books published under The GraciePress imprint.

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From A Small Backyard Garden and A Most Wondrous Place in Portsmouth, Virginia