We met Ruby around March of 2013. At first meeting, she was charming, personable, and persistent. From the first time we met her, she displayed the attributes of leadership many look for in those entrusted with the mantle of influencing others. When Ruby put her “mind” to a task, she would not be denied, until she achieved what she had decided to do.

Who is Ruby you ask? Ruby—is a hen, a productive and valuable laying hen.  She belongs to our neighbors. They say Ruby is their best “layer”.  I don’t doubt it, as you will see.
Oh, as I write this short little story, Ruby is still very much alive. She resides next door to our home here in the beautiful Virginia mountains. Virtually every day we see Ruby and her sisters (eight more of them) as they strut about the fenced-in area, scratching and pecking, looking for tasty morsels of earthworms, bugs or other critters the lush lawn yields up.
It wasn’t always that way. Come to think of it, that is exactly how Ruby and I met.
From the time she developed her “real feathers” Ruby had a great ability to fly –up and out of her pen. Most of her sisters learned how to fly also. As they did, just about every time Ruby decided she was tired of scratching in her yard, we noticed that her sisters would follow her.  It was no time till Ruby decided that the grass in her yard was nowhere near as much fun to scratch in as the luscious grass in our yard. So, Ruby decided to come see us, most days. She would wander around in the beds Laura and I had meticulously groomed with pricy mulch, plants and bulbs of several varieties and lots of green grass. Ruby’s favorite time to come over was just after we had mowed the lawn, and she did many times. After a few Ruby visits, there were little pockets of hen scratches all over the flower beds.
My wife was not amused. Over time, I began to agree with her.
At first, Winston, our beloved old Wheatland Terrier would wander out in “his” yard, and, after spotting strange critters on two scrawny yellow legs, he’d bark and run after them. Ruby and her sisters would scurry back to the comfort of their own yards and amazingly find a way back into the security of their own pen.
Winston soon tired of this new game, called “chase the chickens”, and quit chasing. Not long after, he quit barking too, and just watched them strut around.
Ruby never tired of the game — remember that persistent part I opened up with.  Within the next day or two, there she was with most of her sisters strolling along behind her, scratching in our flower beds. .
Ruby had distinctive red and black marking on her breast feathers, different than her sisters.  She was easy to recognize.
One morning, her mother noticed Ruby and her sisters in our yard and decided something had to be done.  We hadn’t complained. While it was a bit of a nuisance, we never mentioned it to our wonderful neighbors.
Soon after, Ruby’s mother, Angie, informed us that she had clipped the hen’s wings so they couldn’t fly anymore. Only one problem with that solution—
She forgot to tell Ruby.
We did notice that the number of hens visiting us after the “wing clipping” had diminished to Ruby and two or three of her sisters.
A few days later, Ruby’s mother told us she was going to “clip” the wing feathers of all the hens again and that ought to take care of Ruby and the rest.
Only one problem…
She forgot to tell Ruby.
A couple days later, I noticed Ruby over in our yard alone, scratching and strutting. I told Angie, “Leave her alone!  I’ve gotten so fond of her determination and persistence that I had no problem whatsoever with Ruby coming to see us whenever she wanted to.
And she did, occasionally for a few more weeks, and then it stopped.
They must have clipped Ruby’s wings a third time and this time it definitely worked. We haven’t seen Ruby in our flower beds for several months now. I miss her.
Last week, we were having coffee in our sun room and Laura said, “look at that, there are 10 or 12 hens out in our yard strutting around”.  I looked outside for the distinctive Red Breasted Hen.  She was not there.   Laura then mentioned, “Angie told me that she was raising a new batch of hens”. They must have grown up enough for her to let them out of the hen house for a stroll in the yard and they flew out of the fence. It probably won’t be long till it’s “wing clipping time”.  I looked out in the yard and there all the young hens were, strutting and scratching. I then glanced over to the pen.
Ruby, the Red Breasted one was standing and looking over in our yard. She just couldn’t come out and play anymore.
I have noticed that a small word of encouragement or appreciation will do wonders to establish a bond of community with strangers and visitors to church. It sure has bonded and led us to many new friends we have in various communities the Army has moved us to over our career as we walked in the door to a warm greeting from someone. It kind’a makes you want to come back.


Life Lesson: We should show appreciation to those who serve.

Key Scripture: I Thessalonians 5: 12-13.  “But we beseech you brethren, to know them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them exceeding highly in love for their work’s sake.”

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