Chickens: God's Gift to Gardeners

For a change, in this post I want to talk about a practical example of using God’s design to redeem the land, and show how it can bring amazing results. Perhaps it might be useful to some of you.

By the way, I am very grateful to Mr. Herrick Kimball over at The Deliberate Agrarian for mentioning me in his blogazine issue this month. It has really boosted my readership! Welcome to all you newcomers.

For the previous several years the garden operation on our farm hasn’t been the most successful. We still were blessed with many veggies to eat and sell, but the two acres of plantable ground was far from being fully utilized. Especially since I am the primary labor.

However this year was a HUGE improvement because the Lord helped me to implement a small piece of His design early in the season.

This spring our egg operation expanded from one flock, to two. With an additional flock to move around the farm I was faced with a dilemma. Our newly cleared pasture had baby grass coming up that would be decimated by foraging chickens and our small amount of established pastured needed some serious rest. To go along with this challenge, our garden needed to be planted soon but was grown up in crabgrass and other weeds.
Then, somewhere along the way the Lord helped me to see the previously unseen, obvious solution. Put the chickens in the garden!

It was not the first time I had heard or thought of the concept (or even used it), but I had been hesitant before because our garden is further away from our buildings than seemed safe. It seemed more tempting to the critters who consider chicken meat a delicacy around here: coyotes, opossums, raccoons, hawks, owls, etc. However, I knew it would be a good way to turn the chicken’s scratching from a liability in the pasture, to an asset in the garden. So I hooked the tractor to the portable coop of one of the flocks and hauled them down there.

I parked the coop over an area of basically crabgrass sod and surrounded it with electric netting. The chickens were released, and I threw their feed out on the ground. Several weeks later the grass had all been turned into eggs and fertilizer and I had bare soil with a very even dressing of manure. I then moved them to another area, and prepared and planted the spot where they had been. This went on throughout the season and the results I saw were amazing.

In the above picture you can see some of our fall crops. Broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, and tomatoes. In this plot I first got a demonstration of the amazing impact the chickens have on the plants. This was because part of the plot was in an earlier planting of tomatoes and the chickens never got a chance to be on it. The contrast between the part where the chickens had been and where they hadn’t was astounding. See the examples below.

Broccoli plants on ground not worked by the chickens.

Broccoli plants on ground worked by the chickens.

Cabbage plants on ‘un-chickened’ dirt.

Cabbage on ‘chickened’ dirt.

Tomatoes in ‘un-redeemed dirt’.

Tomatoes in ‘redeemed’ dirt!

In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given to you.” I believe this is an excellent example of this principle being displayed in the preparation of soil for planting. And it didn’t require more work from me. It just required me caring for and working God’s creation in a way that honors His design. His wisdom is far superior than anything man can come up with. I mean, just consider a few of the benefits of utilizing the design of chickens in the garden:

-The chickens turn one of the garden’s greatest liabilities, weeds, into one of the garden’s greatest assets, fertilizer.
-Instead of having to work to clean up weeds and crop residue, the chickens do it for me and turn them into eggs, which we then eat and sell!
-Tillage is minimized to preparing a seed bed and shallow cultivation of weeds. Earthworm population has increased.
-Bug population is kept under control.
-Spoiled produce can be fed to chickens to be converted into eggs and fertilizer.
-No time spent applying manure
-No time spent cleaning out coops.
-Organic matter can be incorporated into the soil without the danger of losing nitrogen because of the manure.
-The cost of production of eggs is decreased because feed bill doubles as fertilizer bill as well!

The wisdom of the Lord is limitless, and he offers it to those of us who will ask (James 1:5). What a blessing it is to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, who instructs us in the way to walk, and grants us success. Imagine what the fruits and benefits could be as we continue to seek to redeem our dirt!

Redeeming the Dirt: What in the world does that mean?

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13,14
Since I have sort of coined a new term, “redeeming the dirt”, I thought I should take this post to further explore and explain my intended meaning.
By redeeming the dirt I mean the process or journey of seeking to bring glory to God through our agriculture.
As Christians, we are most familiar with the word ‘redeem’ as it relates to what Christ has done for us. Christ has redeemed (or saved, ransomed, liberated, rescued) us from our sin through his death on the cross in our place.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”       Titus 2:11-14
Now, by redeeming the dirt I am not implying that we can in any way redeem agriculture in the same way that Christ has redeemed us. Obviously we don’t pay the penalty for agriculture to save it from sin. That’s ridiculous. However, what we can and should do as Christians is seek to apply the redemption of Christ to every area of our lives, including agriculture. We do this by seeking to be obedient in those areas. By allowing the law of Christ to root out wickedness and disobedience, and plant seeds of righteousness and obedience.
See, before we were saved we were slaves to sin (John 8:34). This sin extended to every area of our lives which, again, includes agriculture. This sin resulted in wickedness and unfruitfulness. However, when we repented and believed the gospel, God applied the redemption of Christ to our lives and saved us from our sin. Now we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, or in other words, to be obedient to his commands. This obedience results in fruitfulness and God’s blessing. So, in a sense, we as Christians can (and should) redeem our dirt from the curse of our sin by seeking the blessing of the Lord through our obedience. And this obedience, this fruit, is what brings Glory to God.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  John 15:8

So how exactly does this impact our farming? How exactly do we redeem our dirt? Well, here are three things I think we should be doing to help us bring God greater glory through increased obedience:
1. Farm for the Right Reasons
       If we recognize that God created us and owns us, then we should naturally look to Him for the intended purposes of farming. It doesn’t matter how good our production methods are or how productive our farms are if we are doing it for the wrong reasons. Our heart motives must come from God. These reasons are what give us our testimony and set us apart from other farmers.
2. Learn from the Master Farmer
       When we recognize that God is the source of all knowledge, then we should naturally look to him for the wisdom for how to farm. It wouldn’t bring glory to God if we understood his purposes for our farm, then said, “Got it! We’ll get right on it and come up with some way to get it done.” That’s arrogance on our part. We should be looking for him to teach us how to farm.
3. Trust in God’s Power
       When we recognize that God is the source of all power, then we naturally look to him for the power to make our farms successful. Even though we may be properly motivated and use God’s wisdom, we still can’t make our farms successful. We can’t make plants grow or control the weather or even have the strength to get out and work sometimes. Only God can control his creation and give us strength. Our job is to be faithful and leave the results of our work up to him.
Basically, before Christ saved us, our farms were based on the motives, methods, and muscles of man. Redeemed dirt, however, (or born again dirt, as I like to call it) should be based on God’s motives, methods, and muscles. This will result in obedient, God-glorifying agriculture.
We should realize, especially as farmers, that fruit does not appear overnight (except maybe in the case of okra). The sanctification and redemption of our hearts and our farms is a process that depends on the grace of God. Our job is not to figure out how we can do it all today in our own strength. That frustrates me so often. I have found that God wants me to rely on him to lead me step by step.
Here is some practical advice for beginning to redeem your dirt tomorrow:
-Start the day by dedicating it to the Lord, as well as your farm and the days work. Ask him to change your heart and give you the proper motive of love for everything you do. Ask him to give you wisdom for accomplishing your work. Repent of pride, and acknowledge that you can’t please him with your farm apart from his strength. Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength.
-Throughout the day, make it a habit of going to the Lord for wisdom for every decision you have to make. From, “Where should I plant the carrots?”, to “Where should I sell my produce?”
-Ask the Lord for help in everything you do. He can give you the strength when you get tired. He can show you better ways to feed the chickens. Don’t think that you can do anything on your own.
-Focus on being faithful. Leave the results up to God. Neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes it grow.
-Begin to read your Bible as a farming manual. Keep notes of what God teaches you. Although the Bible is not a detailed manual that provides us with all the details we need to know about agriculture, it does provide an understanding of those details that we wouldn’t be able to have without it.
On this blog I hope to help us consider in more detail exactly how God calls us to be obedient in our farming. I want to see Born Again Farmers around the world begin a journey of seeking to glorify God though their farms. I want to see the whole Church rise up and take back agriculture for the Kingdom of God by not only farming, but also by being willing to support Godly farming. I believe this will result in not only the spread of the Gospel of Christ, but also in the most successful farms the world has ever known. Let’s redeem the dirt!