I don’t know who originally coined the phrase “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” While I’m unsure of its origin or inspiration, I am willing to make a bold statement about its application. I believe firmly that Necessity must have been a chicken keeper.
We actively look for ways to ensure that materials don’t sit idle for very long. If you don’t believe me, just ask what I’ve been doing in the 1840 Farm kitchen window. Yes, I’m growing garden plants from kitchen scraps bound for the compost pile. Believe me now?
I surveyed the barn and didn’t see anything that fit the bill. I had read several accounts of people using a plastic children’s wading pool as a capable brooding pen. It made sense: it would help to enclose the birds, contain the bedding and debris, and also be easy to sanitize. After it had done its duty as a brooding pen, I knew that our Miniature Schnauzer would love playing in it on hot summer days. I hadn’t even purchased the pool, yet I was already dreaming up a secondary use for it.
I settled on a plastic children’s pool and set out to pick one up at a local box store. There was only one problem: none of the stores had them in stock. It was mid-April in New England. Most years, snow shovels are more useful during that time of year than paddling pools. This April was unseasonably warm, but the pools were still nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, I was relatively certain that a snow shovel wasn’t going to make a very good brooding pen.
When we had nearly reached the point of giving up, my father spotted one while running errands. He proudly brought it home and we all took a deep sigh of relief. We had our brooding pen and the fresh eggs would be soon to follow.
I disinfected the surface of the hamper and frame by wiping it with my favorite all-natural cleaner: apple cider vinegar. Once the vinegar had dried, I added pine shavings to a depth of one inch. Then I placed the feeder, waterer, and brooding element inside the hamper. It all fit with room to spare. We were officially ready for the arrival of the baby chicks.
My mother was the resourceful one this time. She emerged from the potting shed with a large piece of Agribon row cover. Last fall, it had helped to extend our growing season in the vegetable garden. This spring, it was going to help retain the heat in the brooding pen.
In their opinion, this brooding pen was perfect. I was glad to see that they thought so. I was even happier when I realized that my family agreed. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down to experience the most enjoyable aspect of baby chick care: observing them.
I’m glad that the necessity of tending to the animals living at our farm has encouraged our creative spirit. We have been able to indulge our inventive nature on an almost daily basis. In the end, we’ve been justly rewarded with fresh eggs, goat’s milk, heirloom vegetables, and the pride in a job well done.