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Uncle Walter's animal stories

by Walter L. Wilson (1881-1969)

chickenChickens do not sweat. Perhaps you have wondered why. I have been told that their normal body temperature is [105]-107°F. Ours is 98.6°F. We begin to perspire when we get warmer than that, but chickens do not. God has made them that way because they live close to the ground where it is very hot in summer and they would be very uncomfortable if their body temperature were like ours.

Did you know that chickens can sit on a roost, put their heads under their wings and go sound asleep and snore all night long without falling off their perch? Try to sit on a stick some night to go to sleep! Of course, God did not make you as He made the chickens. Did you ever examine a chicken's foot and leg? If not, you should do so. Sometime when Mother is preparing a chicken, look at the knee where she cuts it off and notice the white, glistening tendon.  If you pull this tendon, you will find that the toes will close. When you release it, the toes will open. How is this possible?

All domestic birds, including chickens, canaries, redbirds, blackbirds and robins, have the same type of feet and legs. The tendons from the three front toes extend to the ball of the foot and the tendon from the back toe reaches the ball of the foot and there they unite to make one tendon. This comes around on the front of the ankle, runs through a channel and up across the knee through a canal and then spreads out on the thigh. When the chicken sits, the tendon is stretched and the toes pull shut. The chicken could not open its foot if it wanted to except by standing. When it stands, the tension is released and the toes can open. All the chicken has to do is to keep sitting on the roost and even the wind cannot blow it off!

Wild, carnivorous birds are not like this. The eagle, the hawk and the owl have claws they can close when stretched at full length from their bodies. God made them that way so that they could clutch the little animals which they catch and hold them firmly at a distance. If they had to pull their legs close to their bodies to close their toes, then the little rabbit, or snake, or whatever they were carrying, could bite and tear the breast of the eagle or the hawk. God is very wise and good. He knows how to make everything and fit it for the kind of life He wants it to live. That is the reason, children, He wants you to trust Him with your lives and your hearts. Then He will enable you to live the way He wants you to live. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Roosters are queer birds, aren't they? But there are some wonderful things about them which boys and girls should imitate. In the first place, they rise early in the morning to begin their God-given task of crowing. Who ever heard of a rooster who slept until eight o'clock in the morning?

The rooster does not refuse to crow because he cannot sing like a canary. He does not even try to imitate a redbird or a nightingale. He does what he can do in the best way he can.

He does something very earnestly for which he is never praised. Did you ever hear anyone praise a rooster because he crowed well? But the lack of praise does not keep the rooster from crowing.

The rooster has a very unhappy task. His work is to awaken sleepers. That needs to be done often but nobody thanks the one who does it.

The crowing rooster brings good news. He tells us that a new day has come in which we may know and serve our Lord. The rooster is dependable and persistent. He is a splendid advertiser. He tells what his associates are doing in the barnyard, for the hens lay the eggs and he crows about it.

The rooster never complains because he must do the same thing over and over again. All he does is crow—in the morning and in the afternoon, before breakfast and after dinner—but he does it gladly. These are good lessons, children, for you to learn, and I hope you will learn them.

I must tell you something about the hen's egg. If you should spin an egg on a plate at the table or do anything else with it, you could not turn over the yolk so it would be upside-down. God has made the yolk so that it is always in the right position inside the shell. You will notice that when you break an egg, or when Mother does, she scrapes out some of the white part with her fingers. The part that is scraped is a kind of rope that is attached to the side of the yolk and then to the side of the shell. This holds the yolk in place all the time.

The yolk is made like a battleship. The bottom is very heavy and the top is very light. This enables it to float constantly in the white part with which it is surrounded. This structure of the yolk, plus the rope about which I have just told you, keeps the yolk right side up no matter how much it is twisted or turned either by human fingers or by the mother hen. God has made it this way because the life germ is in the top of the yolk and it must be near the breast of the mother hen so that the warmth from her body will cause the wee baby chicken to grow. Again, we can see the wonderful wisdom of our God in heaven.

The Lord of Life who is living in heaven will help you live a very blessed life. When you accept the Lord Jesus, you will find it easy to live a Christian life and to do the will of God as it is revealed in the Bible. Will you get your Bible and read John 4:14?  The living water is that blessed eternal life which the Saviour will put into your heart when you come to Him by faith.

When the baby chicken is formed, it is always formed with its nose in the air chamber in the large end of the egg. I have asked many farmers all over the United States whether they have found a baby chicken with its nose in the small end of the egg. No farmer has found an egg like that. There is a reason, and this again shows the wisdom and the goodness of God. The shell of the egg is much thicker at the small end than it is at the larger end. For that reason the baby chicken's nose is in the large end where the shell is thin. Then when the baby wants to get out, it does not have trouble cracking the thin shell at the large end. It would have a very difficult time trying to get out through the small end where the shell is thick and hard. The baby chicken's bill is very soft. It could never peck its way out if God did not make a little tool for its use. The Lord in some strange way makes a very hard little cone to grow over the soft bill of the baby chicken. This little tool is hard enough to break the shell of the egg. It covers the soft bill until the baby chicken gets out of the shell. After the baby comes out, this little cone, almost as hard as a bone, falls off the baby's nose, for the little bill will get hard very quickly and it will no longer need the cone. Too, the little cone would keep the baby's bill from opening and it could not eat if the cone remained. Sometimes it is so tight that the farmer must pick it off with his finger. The wonderful God who made this wonderful preparation for the baby chicken's life is the same God who wants to arrange your life for you.

The baby chicken starts to breathe two days before it is born. There is enough air in the little air chamber to keep the baby breathing for just two days. Then when it takes its last breath of air and there is none left in the little pocket, it gives a gasp and the jerk of its head, as it tries to breathe, breaks the shell, and out it comes into a great new world. Chickens do what God made them to do and I hope that you dear children will, too. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Be sure to trust this Saviour and He will keep you safe during this life and the next.

From Uncle Walter's Animal Stories by Walter L. Wilson. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, ©1945.

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