It wasn’t even one month ago when we excitedly met Farmer Chris to get our 12 chicken eggs. With six little (and very eager) helping hands they were lovingly placed in an incubator and watched very closely. And 20 days later, met with so much eager anticipation, we watched our very first chick, Chirpy, hatch from her shell. Ten more babes would follow in the next day, totaling 11 chicks to be held and snuggled, and oh the learning!
I knew my little ones would learn about chickens and egg development of course. But I did not know all of the other learning that would take place. For my littlest, these chicks were a means to help him develop his language. Having said but barely a few words prior to the hatch, my little Ben is now saying “chick”, “cheep”, and “shhhh” as well, of course, as “more” … as in one more snuggle. Sam, who just turned four, was completely fascinated by the entire hatching process, and learned a great deal about responsibility, as he truly seemed to feel responsible for these little feathery friends. And possibly most importantly, and quite surprisingly, my Madeline developed a much deeper appreciation for the animals that make up a part of our diet. We do eat meat, and chicken at that, and she developed a love for our chickens, and an understanding of the importance to properly respect and care for all animals, especially those that will feed us. Wasting food seems like such a terrible thing to do now. Yes, this reminder has truly been deep for me as well. It is easy, living in the city and being far removed from the actual animals, to forget the process and not give much thought (or thanks) to what we are eating. Things are different now, our appreciation has certainly been renewed.
These babes of ours are quite likely the luckiest of chicks to have ever hatched. These babes will live out their days, happy as can be with Farmers Chris and Judy, enjoying scraps of food and bread crumbs, while roaming around their 50 acre farm. Yesterday we took these 11 babes home to join their flock. And what a flock it is! 15 beautiful chickens – all with lovely chicken names (including, of course, Henrietta).
Farmer Chris and Judy, who we did not know prior to this experience welcomed us to their farm yesterday, lovingly listened to my Madeline tell them each and every chicken name, patiently let each of my little ones fill the feeding trough and place the chicks one by one into the brooder. Our babes will remain inside with them until they are big enough to head to the chicken coop. And soon enough will be free-range, as chickens were meant to be.
Though of course sad to see these chicks go, and I did have to wipe a few tears before bed, we all know the chicks are exactly where they should be – in loving capable hands, with other chicks, and some sweet cows too. And we will visit. Madeline is eager to see her Chirpy and bound and determined that she will know exactly which one she is.
Though it has been not even a month, we have all grown so much from this experience. My faith in the kindness of strangers has certainly been strengthened. Benjamin’s language has developed immensely. Madeline and Sam have learned about doing what is right, even when it is hard to say good-bye. And my husband John, well, his patience has grown even more with handling the shenanigans I throw his way. Yes, this was a wonderful experience.
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