I have realized that I don’t write enough about my chickens. So today, I will do exactly that.
Oh where to begin? These ladies were precisely the reason we moved out here in the first place. Silly? I suppose. But true.
We were longing for a simpler life. Growing and making our own wherever we could. We had a great vegetable garden in the city, but no farm animals of course. And they were just calling to us. Or, I suppose me. John was not hearing it quite as strong. Or at all.
And so it is only fitting that I chat about these lovely ladies of mine, now that we have them. We have had chickens now for two years, and while I am no expert, we have learned a lot in those two years.
I knew we would love having chickens, and we really do. One area I didn’t consider, sort of a hidden benefit of sorts, is the impact they have had on the kids.
Learning about caring for our chickens has been an incredible experience for my little ones. We have always had pets, but chickens have taught my children so much more than I thought possible from animals.
While we are trying our hand at homesteading, and are beginning to feel a little more like country dwellers, we are not by any stretch true chicken farmers. We are certainly making progress, in that we now only name our favourite hens (which just so happens to be almost all of them).
So what has having chickens taught my children? Eggs-treme amounts. (I can’t believe I forgot to break out the egg jokes before now!)
But eggs-actly what?
To go outside. It’s no surprise that we like to be outside. But heading out first thing in the morning, and right before bed has added something special to our lives. That breath of fresh air first thing in the morning has proved to be just what my little ones need to start our day on the right path. Even when that breath is painstakingly cold!
To go outside a lot. In the winter we are outside often if we are to get to the eggs before they freeze. The winter is a tough time for us to get outside, but if we want the eggs, out we go. By the time we bundle and get out we almost always have a little play on our way. A welcome way to add a little outside time to our day. (Plus, we put fun hats on them – a sure way to brighten a winters day!)
To slow down. Have you ever tried to run up to a chicken? It is received with frantic running around in little circles by the poor hens. And those ladies can hold a grudge! But if you walk up slow and calm, sit down quiet, and offer a treat or two, you have friends for life. Sometimes slowing down is absolutely necessary to make connections. Even my busy little boys can understand this now.
To think about waste. One area we are really working on right now is reducing our garbage as a family. We recycle and reuse, but we struggle to compost – I’m not making excuses, but I will say one word … raccoons. Instead of popping those toast crusts, left over grapes, and watermelon rinds in the garbage, they are handed to our lovely ladies. A treat for those feathery friends and put to good use, instead of waste. Environmentally conscious little ones result.
To respect food. Speaking of waste. These little ones of mind do not waste their eggs. After bundling up 5 times a day to pop out and gather those sparse winter eggs, the idea of not eating every last bite is absurd. And my children understand that. I can only image how this will grow when (or if) we raise our own meat. (I have mentioned how we still name our chickens – and you saw the hats. We are a few steps away from meat birds, I do believe.)
Love and loss. We do love and respect these chickens of ours. And we do lose them. This winter in particular was a bad one – we lost five of our ladies, including our Blackie and Henny Penny. It is terrible, and heart wrenching, and very sad. We try to empathize with the animals that took our friends – a Mama coyote feeding her babies, a raccoon starving in the winter. We try to understand, we support our little ones through the tears, we talk about death and all the uncomfortable-ness that comes along with it. We do this in the hopes of raising caring, emotionally sound, thoughtful people. I certainly hope it is working, because goodness it is hard.
Fun. At the end of the day, what is the meaning of life? In our house, it is many things – but importantly, it is to help one another, be kind, and have fun. And my word are these ladies fun. Personalities abound, with hilarious antics anytime you happen to watch. There is never a dull moment in that farmyard, and if there should be one, a single piece of toast will fix it in an instant.
As it turns out, these ladies of ours have added heaps to our lives. They have reminded us exactly why we are doing what we are doing. Why we are slowing down and getting outside, dealing with the hard times of life while still having fun.
I am not quite sure what my original question was, but I can assure you chickens are my answer.
I hope you are have an egg-cellent start to your week friends. Thank you for reading!