I have a four year old daughter. She has an obsession. And it’s chickens. Now every little kid needs a hobby, my daughter has just decided that hers should include caring for live fowl. The middle tribesmen sits and plays with a farm set for hours if left unbothered, the eldest would do the same caring for baby chicks. This obsession began innocently enough. Last year Tom and I succumbed to Chick Days at our local Rural King (a farm supply store, for those not in the “know”). We knew we wanted to have some layers, as well as some to eat. We left the store with 50 chicks.
Some pullets (girl chicks) and the majority were straight run chicks (boy and girl chickens) with the assumption about half or so would be roosters and they would become yummies in our tummies. We also assumed we may have a small death loss, we were unaware of how hearty these little boogars actually are at the time. So long story short, we only had 6 roosters and everyone lived thru “chickhood”. This left us with 44 hens. Now about this time was when Emma started to really take the chickens under her wing, so to speak. We all talked and decided that 20 hens would be ample for us at the time. The rest went off to become nuggets.
This leads us in to August. Emma’s mother hen came out in her full force. She was tending to her hens daily. I’m positive we currently have the friendliest coop of hens in the county, possibly the state. It’s amazing what happens when a4 year old girl hand raises you! Some of them may think they are truly dogs. One sunny August day Emma found an egg sitting in one of the old rabbithutches in our barn. Apparently the hens forgot to notify us they were laying, as this is what we found after cleaning out the box.
There ended up being 20 some eggs. Being that the eggs were of undetermined age, the hogs we were raising at the time had a tasty little snack. We knew that our hens would make more eggs than we could eat, but thought between grandparents, great-grandparents, we wouldn’t have that many extras. Our little over achievers like to lay eggs apparently. For most of the fall we were getting 18 eggs daily. Emma developed an eggclientele. When she had extras she would take them to the local hay auction. Anymore she really enjoys this, the auctioneer and several people there have realized that a little4 year old brings in her extra bounty once a month. She generally gets a nice price for them! So this prompted talk of expansion.
There is a hatchery, not far from us, that is nationally recognized. I saw, via Facebook the carrier of all important knowledge, that they were having a chick sale. So after Tom and I talking, we brought it up to her. So today we had 30 new little pullets (girl chicks) come to live in our garage.
The current chick habitat is a cattle water tub, rigged up with heat lamps, feed and electrolyte enhanced water. I’m hoping it warms up quickly outside. For many reasons, but last years chicks could fly out of the tub before they were relocated. Made going to the garage a treat! From there they’ll go to a pen beside our current hens until they are big enough to join them. I’m actually able to write this blog in peace and quiet because the eldest two of the tribe are sitting in lawn chairs, in our garage, watching chicks. Better than cartoons I guess! Taylor likes the chickens as well, but his passion is ponies. I’m sure some day his trusty stead, Jack, will get a post in his honor.
Emma also has a hen who is a little rebellious. It’s always good to see her encounter a living being with the same strong will she has. Chick-O-letta , as she has been dubbed, refuses to stay in the coop. She has found a hole the others have not and uses it as her personal door. She is waiting outside the barn to greet you when you go up to do chores.
Emma wants to make her obsession known to her peers tomorrow during show and tell. It’s a spring theme and she originally wanted to take in a chicken. I quickly vetoed that idea. So we are going to make a collection of pictures with her and her brood. I’m sure that is one pre-school class that will be well versed on chickens by the time they go home! I really do admire the girls enthusiasm when it comes to her little feathered friends!
Her hens have enabled her to become quite the little entrepreneur. Her dollars, as she puts it, go in to her savings account. It’s a good way to teach her about money, as well as making her a more outgoing person by talking to her customers when they come to pick up eggs. Believe it or not, the kid is actually kind of shy when out of her element.
I’m not sure if we are supportive parents or if we are enablers. Either way she’s enjoying them, we’re all benefitting and she’s learning how to be a responsible little business woman. I believe it’s a win-win!