This has been a constant and long-standing request: “Mama, I want baby chicks!”
Each time my daughter Ara asks for them, I cannot help but roll my eyes, thinking, “Fools rush in …” The excitement at the idea of chicks crashes over her 5-and-a-half-year-old mind like an ocean wave. Her face lights up, she claps her hands excitedly and jumps up and down, imagining what it would be like to have the chicks.
Both she and her sister, Nora (2 1/2 years old), know it’s chick time when we enter the post office in the spring: You can hear the young birds peeping in the mail room, waiting to be delivered to their homes. We’ve visited the baby chicks at the local Agway for a couple of years now. It’s the only thing the girls want to see when we enter the store. They run quickly to the back of the store and beg for me to pick the peeping chicks up so they can take a look. I’ve stood strong and waited for more than a year, and Ara’s still pining for backyard chickens. Nora is pleased no matter what, but she is starting to want whatever her sister wants. Nora’s unconditionally willing to support her big sister’s cause.
We took a field trip to our neighbor’s farm last summer and all Ara wanted to do was hold the poults (baby turkeys), as pictured above.
She intently checked out all the chicken coops as Derek and I inspected, too. Both of us were trying to get an idea for a coop that would work in our backyard. Our neighbors kindly offered to loan us an incubator so we could show the girls the entire process of raising chicks when spring rolls around.
It’s obvious this is not just a momentary wish, but something Ara honestly wants. I’m hoping this will be an opportunity for her and her sister to learn more about responsibility and caring for another animal besides our cats, who couldn’t care less about the girls most of the time. I’m a teacher at heart and love the idea of opening another awesome part of the world up to my girls. This indeed is a wonderful opportunity full of teachable moments. As well, we’ll all enjoy the fresh eggs in the fridge. I’ll also enjoy the chicken manure which, once aged, is wonderful for the garden. I’m an avid gardener and love growing veggies, perennial flowers, fruit-bearing trees and bushes with the entire family. It will be pretty neat having the hens around!
We’ve decided we want no more than four hens and two would even be fine for us. I’ve purchased some books on building coops, so our next step is to pick one that’s right for us.
So for our next blog entry, the reading and planning begins for the coop! It is my intent to blog about our journey into “hendom” at least twice a month as we prepare for chickens in our backyard. I’ll share the books we use and do my best to explain the highs and lows of raising backyard chickens. We live in rural Pennsylvania on almost four acres of land. So, join us on our journey into hendom!