Last year my daughter’s first-grade teacher brought about 12 chicken eggs into her class. She set up the proper heat and environment for them to hatch and allowed the children to pet and foster them over the weekends. The children were promised that if any of the families wanted to take some home at the end of the year, they could do so.
Naturally my daughter heard this and was over the moon about it.
What did I know about raising chickens?
Just to preface this, my home is already a zoo. We have a dog, a cat, a parakeet, and a bearded dragon.
So adding chickens to the mix seemed to make sense after some thought, right? Keeping animals that could also provide breakfast, genius!
Either she is quite the persuasive little one or I am just a giant push over. Maybe a little of both. They were cute fuzzy little buggers. Harmony had become pretty attached to her favorite. She named him Mohawk because of the big black patch of fuzzy feathers on it’s head.
So, the last day of school we took our 3 new additions, Mohawk included, home and we couldn’t have been more excited about it.Keeping animals that could also provide breakfast, genius! #momlife Click To Tweet
You want to know the challenges of raising hens with your kids?
For a lot of people the coop is the biggest expense with backyard chickens. Luckily for us my brother is a whiz and put together a great little coop for our hens. I was especially grateful for this since the coop is generally the hardest and most financially taxing part about taking in chickens.
Generally, people have to be handy enough to build one on their own or buy one.
We purchased straw bedding for the coop and home sweet home it was! Harmony and I were pretty proud of ourselves and excited about the new additions to our home.
I added feeding and caring for the chickens to my daughter’s daily list of chores. I was determined to not only turn this into a lesson in responsibility, but also an educational experience about the origination of our food.
What I had not contemplated was the possibility of predators right in my backyard. We’re city dwellers, so I don’t have to deal with wolves or coyotes trying to get into the chicken coop right?
One morning Harmony came back from the coop looking as though she may cry. I immediately knew what had happened. I berated myself for not thinking of extra safeguards against possible predators.
Sure enough,l when I went to check on the coop little Mohawk was no more. Surprisingly he was the only one that had been attacked.
Although this is not a lesson that I had contemplated having to teach my child via our new chicken raising adventure, it is probably the most important lesson she could have learned from it all. We talked about the circle of life, why we couldn’t be mad at the animal because it was his nature and the fact that death is natural.
Sadness and loss
My daughter now understands that death is something that happens to everyone and everything. We will miss little Mohawk, but we remember the good times we had with our little friend and celebrate his life instead of mourning his death. We learned it is okay to be sad. Sadness and crying are a healthy release, but the sun will rise again tomorrow and we were lucky to have little Mohawk for the time that we did.
Since then it has been smooth as could be. I didn’t have to do much to twist my brother’s arm and convince him to put up a fence around the coop for us after he saw my daughter’s reaction to losing her chicken friend. That solved the predator issue in a hurry.
Now, not only do we reap the benefits of fresh eggs on the weekends, (when I have time to cook a large breakfast for the family) but these little cluckers are hilarious. They have their own little personalities and know when table scraps are coming their way. The go absolutely cuckoo for them and my daughter’s laughter could not be more rewarding.
We have the typical forgetfulness that can be expected from an 8-year-old, but for the most part the responsibilities that have been given to her have been taken with pride.
Mohawk’s death helped her to see the value in every life and how lucky she is to have those, animal or otherwise, in her life while they last.
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Rose is a proud mother first and passionate writer second. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, she recently moved to beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated from New York University with a B.A in Journalism and her Masters in Media, Culture and Communication. The MCC program was a great form of progression and catalyst in her desire to continue to seek outlets of expression through writing. After graduation she worked for local media outlets both online and in print, even working as an editor for online entertainment magazine, The Exposition. When she isn’t busy freelancing, writing or editing you can find her being goofy with her family and enjoying motherhood or at a desk somewhere toiling away at her own fiction writing.”