Several of my girls are molting. It’s the time of year for it, but in all the years I’ve had chickens I’ve never researched why hens molt, and honestly, I’ve never wondered why . . . until today.

I am not a good speller, but when I googled, “molting” it pulled up “moulting” also. Both words were interchanged in each definition.

Here’s what I learned –

Moulting is the shedding of the exoskeleton in insects. When it sheds, it allows organisms to grow. That process is called ecdysis. Why is this process important? It is explained in simple terms (which I truly appreciate) – human skin stretches and grows with us, but the exoskeleton can’t do that. The insect must shed the exoskeleton in order to grow.

Molting occurs in hens when they are young and growing, but it also occurs during fall in older hens. It can happen during hormonal changes – changes in the flock – during any stressful events – during the fall – when a hen goes broody. The purpose of losing their feathers is painful. During this season the hens need extra nutrients. The once beautiful girls become homely – almost sickly. The old feathers have to fall out so the new feathers can grow.

In both instances some pain must be experienced in order to growth.

I was sharing with a friend today the struggles I have been having in dealing with the layers of grief. I had no idea just five or six hours later the Lord would give me the visual he did with my girls. Last week some were so ugly I wouldn’t take pictures of them. I sure wish I had because they are my gorgeous girls again. One of my cochin’s (I have three) feathers have grown back in completely curly! The picture on the top is of one of the cochin sisters.

That is what she used to look like before the molt.

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And this is how her feathers have come back in!

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She looked sickly going through the molt – but the end result brings beauty.

John 15:2 tells me He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. By removing the barren branches it allows me to grow.

It is painful.

It is ugly.

And without extra nutrients the process is even more exhausting.

But the end result . . . is beautiful.