The GraciePress Newsletter

By J.R. Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The GraciePress Newsletter - “PeeP!” - Chapter 12 - “Farewell, Dearest Friends”

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The GraciePress Newsletter - “PeeP!” - Chapter 12 - “Farewell, Dearest Friends”
This is a bittersweet chapter of the book. Gracie and Bessie’s friends left them to move on to new and different lives. It’s something that we all must face at one time or another. Our hope is that this chapter will help others, especially children, to cope with change especially when friends move away.
One important thing which this chapter does is to introduce the idea that just as some songbirds are Pages in The Living Library (found in Chapter 10), some chickens are Guardians. This new mystery will unravel in future chapters and books!

“Gracie, does Lefty believe this garden here is A Most Wondrous Place for him to be?”
“He has never said. There are times when we must make A Most Wondrous Place for ourselves the best we can,” she said. “And then we must wait.”
The idea of waiting brought a heaviness to Gracie’s heart and to mine as well. What will happen if the waiting never ends? What if someone has waited their entire life for something, and it never happens for them?
“And then we must wait a little longer still,” she said, as if knowing what I wanted to ask. “What else is there to do when we have done all we know to do?”
It felt as if she was speaking for every bird, every animal, and every living thing in the world without a home, a meal, or a happier tomorrow to anticipate.
Somehow, Gracie knew Leftie would be leaving soon. Maybe Lefty had told her. Maybe she had guessed from the way I was acting.
“Wherever you take him, be sure it is a place where there is hope,” she said. “Everyone needs hope.”
“He turned out to be a good friend to you, didn’t he?”
“With Bessie, it had been so easy to become friends. It was something I never had to think about. It just happened. But with Lefty, it was different. He had made fun of me. He had teased me. He was the last one I ever thought would be my friend, but when we danced together that first day in front of everyone, we started to slowly become friends. What we both enjoyed connected our hearts.”
“I don’t want him to go either, Gracie. But there is no other choice. I’ve found the best home I could for him.”
“Do you think they will have a record player at his new home?”
“I’m not sure, Gracie. I’d like to think that there will be.”
“Would you make sure he takes the record with ‘The Waltz Of The Snowflakes’ to his new home? That was always his favorite. He loved being the wind.”
I nodded.
“And even if there is no record player, it might help him to remember us all and the fun times we had together,” she said. “There is hope in remembering.”
I nodded again.
“I will never forget those days when we danced together. He was my friend. An unexpected friend. But still a friend. Knowing he will be moving away hurts more than I ever imagined it would.”
Moving Lefty out to the country was not easy for any of us. I had wanted to do it quietly, but there seemed to be an exceptionally large number of songbirds in the garden that morning. They flew out in all directions, but some seemed to follow us as I slowly rode out to the country with Lefty on the back of my bicycle. From inside the wire crate, he silently looked back at the road behind us. It was a road he would only remember but never travel again.
His new home was a small farm with a coop and run area built just for him by a young couple. There was a nice barn, but there were no farm animals in it yet. Lefty had only a big, friendly dog named Otis for company. 
As Lefty was getting settled, he looked at me as if to say, “How can you do this to me?” But he did not pace back and forth like before. He had learned to be patient with life, and he gave me time to figure out what I needed to do.
The next day, I took Rudy to be his companion without wasting any time. She chattered happily about the new sights along the way and about her own new hopes.
Lefty was aimlessly scratching and pecking when we arrived. He looked up in surprise when he heard my bicycle tires on the gravel driveway. The news we were coming had not reached him yet. The songbirds never anticipated this would happen. People seldom give away a pullet who will one day be a fine egg-laying hen. 
As soon as he recognized it was me and saw Rudy, he rushed over to the fence and greeted the two of us.
“Bür-Ä-Bök! Bür-Ä-Bök!” he said again and again, flapping his powerful wings.
Lefty eagerly showed Rudy around. He made sure she knew where the food and water were and showed her how to get up to the best and safest perching spot. Rudy could have easily discovered these things for herself, but she let him help her.
He pointed towards the forest at the back of the yard and told her about what he had seen lurking in the shadows earlier that morning. 
“But do not worry,” he said. “I will make sure you are safe.”
A rooster without anyone to protect just doesn’t feel like a rooster any more. From his intense watchfulness to his desire to be the first at everything, being a farm rooster was what he had been training for all his life. His patience had been rewarded, and he was going to be the best rooster any farm ever had. There was no doubt in my mind or in Rudy’s mind either.
As I was leaving, Lefty told me, “Thank you. Come back and visit Your Best Little Buddy whenever you need help.”
I did not want to offend him, and so I didn’t ask how he could ever help me. I could not imagine anything he might be able to do for me.
“Just so you know—I am a Guardian,” he said.
He flew up to the top of their coop and stood his proudest. I could hear Rudy inside rearranging the straw and tapping the sides of the nesting box with her beak. She was making sure it would be ready for when she would begin to lay eggs in a few months.
On the way out to the main road, I suddenly heard Lefty’s joyfully loud “Cock-a-doodle-do!” echoing off the huge farm oak trees. He had not made a single sound the day before, but he did the day Rudy came to share the farm with him.
An odd feeling of peace between us filled my heart, and I hoped his crowing meant he and Rudy were in their own A Most Wondrous Place at last. Even though I was still unsure what those words meant, I knew they were good words and what I wanted for both of them.
A flock of crows led by a single raven followed above me along the winding country lane and out to the main road. Then the crows returned to their field, leaving only the raven. I wondered if Lefty had sent them to see me safely as far as their territory allowed. It did seem like something Lefty would do as a Guardian, whatever that meant.
Maybe being a Guardian just meant he was a rooster and on his own now, but that did not fit with what I had learned about chickens so far. Hardly anything about the secret lives of chickens is what I or anyone else could ever imagine it to be.
It takes time and patience to learn about chickens. They will hurry to get something to eat, but they will not hurry to share their secrets. If Lefty could be patient with me while figuring out what was best for him, then I could be patient with him while learning his secrets too.
Before long, Lefty and Rudy would begin raising their own little family, and I would come back and visit to see how their baby chicks turned out. There could be quite a variety of colors and patterns since he was a Buff Orpington and she was a Rhode Island Red.
From time to time, I would catch glimpses of a raven in the trees around the garden, and I wondered if it was the same one who had followed me home from Lefty’s farm. It would be just like him to want to make sure we were all doing well.
Several weeks later, The Emperor began crowing. Then I took him and The Empress to a different farm farther away. It was bigger, and there were other chickens already there. As I had expected, they were still the most regal, and the raven had followed us there too.
Only Gracie and Bessie remained. Although they never said it to me, I knew both were wondering if one of them would be the next to go.
From time to time, they would have quiet conversations together. The only word I ever heard them say clearly was “BuH-HuB?” Whenever I came over to join them, they always seemed to find something to do somewhere else.
Their questions were likely the same as mine. Why does life give us the gift of friends who will one day leave us? Why didn’t anyone warn us that taking someone into our hearts is risky? There did not seem to be any answers.
They did not understand city laws that said, “No more than six hens. No roosters allowed.” I understood with my head but not with my heart. Nevertheless, when you love someone, you must do what is best for them even if it does not seem like what is best for you.
Each day, I would tell Gracie and Bessie, “This is your home. You will always be together.”
They would listen to me and stare at the empty stage we had set up in the open garden gate.
We had used quilts draped over the garden fence on each side of the gate to make the stage wings. “What a silly name. Wings are supposed to have feathers,” they would say and then giggle while hiding and waiting for their turns to dance on the smooth linoleum-covered plywood stage. Also hiding in the wings was The Record Player. We had fixed its arm so Lefty could select the songs to play, and he was careful to never scratch a single record.
With some red fabric on a curtain rod and a string of Christmas lights, the stage had seemed quite magical in the evenings for their shows. More than anything else, Lefty’s enthusiasm had helped make it that way. He loved to dance with Gracie. Without Lefty, it all looked like just an odd pile of junk in the backyard.
It took time for Gracie and Bessie to trust that they would not have to leave or be separated. I had expected them to just believe me about how they would always be together. But chickens are cautious, and when so much seems to be against them, I suppose they really should be.
Emily’s Art Recipe for Daisies
Here is another of Emily’s “art recipes” for construction paper collages. Flowers make everything better, and daisies are just about the most cheerful flowers we have in our garden!
Discounts from Amazon
If you are interested in purchasing either of these books, they are currently being discounted by Amazon. (We believe this may be to clear out warehouse space for our next book!)
Amazon.com: PeeP!: 9781736633854: Spiers, John, Spiers, John: Books
BwÖwK! (Once Through a Garden Gate): Spiers, John, Spiers, John: 9781736633861: Amazon.com: Books
Until Next Time…
Next Week: Chapter 13 - “Blanche and Pearl”
Chapter 13 is the last chapter of PeeP! How about that?! You will have read an entire book!
Please feel free to share and forward this newsletter to others who might be interested. Chickens are really big fans of sharing!
Thank you for reading!
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