Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Children and Chickens

Above photo courtesy of Kimberly Taylor Pestell.
Chickens are our only family pets. We've thought about cats, and bunnies but for the time being it's chickens. My oldest daughter is 2.5, we've had the birds for most of her life. Ever since she could walk we've let her tromp around int he chicken yard, chase and feed the birds. It has been a wonderful experience for her. She's watched a chicken sit on eggs for days on end, seen baby chicks just hatched, she's watched them grow ill, and known them to die. She watches them, feeds them, pets them and just really enjoys them. Some days we will sit at the window or on the front porch and watch them, pointing out to each other the silly things they do.
We once had a chick given to (actually dumped on) us from a neighbor. This was the most friendly, affectionate, wonderful bird we ever had. Lyra named her Sarah. She was great, until she started to get really big, I mean really big. Then she started to show signs that she might not be a she. One of the earliest ways to tell is a hen's tail feathers tend to point skyward while rooster tail feather start curving towards the ground. Roosters also develop spurs on the back of their feet fairly early. Also you'll notice that the hens stop picking on them (they always pick on the new/young birds) pretty early and they start politely avoiding them. Anyhow, Sarah turned out to be a rooster. It was actually pretty sad for us, he was the only one that would let Lyra pick him up, until he grew too large of course. He would run after us when we walked away, such a sweet little pal, always down for a nice little petting session. We gave him away, he might have become someones dinner, or even worse someones bird for cock fighting. Wow, I hadn't actually thought about that possibility until now, and it makes me want to cry. People can be so cruel. Here's a picture of Lyra petting Sarahfino.

My husband told me of a study that attributed the rise in allergies in young children to less exposure to farm animals. Here's a link to that NPR article. To Sniff Out Childhood Allergies
How interesting is that!? Hopefully my kids will be all good in that department, especially after we add goats to our mix.
Lyra loves the chickens, I am excited that when she's a bit older daily egg collection will be her responsibility. She will love bringing her little basket out there every morning and gathering the colorful eggs. She could spend all day out there and it is so good for her! Chickens are great with children, especially if they have been raised by people and are used to children. I am super excited to raise the 15 chicks we just ordered! I'll tell you all about that adventure next time!

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