If there is one thing this homesteading journey has taught me, it’s that Nature doesn’t like empty spaces. Barren ground gets covered in weeds. Tick-free dogs discover tick-infested brush. And fish-less ponds receive fish from the sky. This constant drive to fill in the gaps often results in beauty or efficiency as fishermen discover new fishing holes and weeds produce nectar for busy little bees. However, much like our own places of emptiness, Nature occasionally fills its voids with less desirable choices such as blood sucking ticks and a rooster named Betty.
Betty is our homestead’s current rooster and is nearly the perfect mate for our flock. Unusually quiet, this self-proclaimed leader searches all through the day for choice morsels to share with the harem, seeming to have no favorites as worms and over ripe tomatoes are made available to all. Even mounting is kept to a minimum with no aggressive tendencies being displayed towards the hens. Overall, the ladies and Betty seem to live in harmony unless arguing over roosting space. The only problem with Betty is that she’s really a hen.
I suppose it’s my fault that we have a female rooster. The day I saw our previously non-aggressive rooster attack my young toddler, I swore I’d never have another rooster except for dinner. So years passed with no obvious issues arising from being rooster-less. My girls even seem to lay better without the constant interference of an overly ‘happy’ guy running around chasing them from dawn to dusk. No problems until now, that is. It seems it simply took Nature a little time to decide how to best fill this reproductive gap. Of course, Betty can’t really fill that gap; she’s just filling it the best way she knows how.
This natural inclination to fill the empty spaces throughout ecosystems and homesteads is a mirror image of what we humans do on a day to day basis. Often the voids are small matters such as an empty stomach that needs lunch or an empty tea jug that needs filling. However, much of our emptiness goes as deep as the rooster-less flock. If that void is not filled correctly, life itself will falter and eventually end.
Yet, it is a sad reality that in our attempts to fill our own voids and emptiness we often surround ourselves with life-draining companions, work obsessions, costly possessions, or other poor choices. Left untreated like a tick-infested dog, these poor substitutes eventually make us ill through stress, debt, abuse, or lost relationships. And the scary part is that often times these areas don’t seem to be cause for concern upon first glance. Like the barren ground, life may look a little bland but nothing bad is really happening. On the surface anyway. Look a little deeper though, and you’ll find these barren places are slowly dying from a lack of life giving support.
This is where weeds can be helpful. Made to be tough with roots that dig down deep in search of life-supporting nutrients, weeds are the life saving force of any barren ground. When considering weeds, the important thing to remember is that every good weed has the potential to breathe life back into the dying space. Your own weeds may be that seemingly last bit of flame your marriage contains, a mouth puckering apology that’s owed, or simply less ‘stuff.’ The weeds may not look appealing at first, but give them a chance to grow and you just may find something sweet stems from the effort.
When attempting to fill those areas of emptiness in our own lives, we would do well to take a closer look at Nature’s methods. If we rush decisions or don’t choose wisely, we will likely find ourselves carrying excess baggage that weighs us down and drains our energy. As a result, our lives will become ineffective and fruitless. However, if we choose wisely and wait patiently like an empty pond, the very thing we need most can begin to take root and grow. And as we grow, we will find we are better able to bless those around us as well.
Now, I think it’s time I find my flock a rooster.