When we decided to move across Kansas to the farm from Kansas City, our friends were a little surprised. They would say things like, "You're going to live on a farm? Like, with horses and cows and pigs and goats and sheep and chickens and.....???" Well, no, not quite. We're moving to a crop-based farm, but we have a dog. Does that count?
I think it's safe to say that when most people think of farm life, they envision something like the Zuckerman's Family Farm from Charlotte's Web: rolling fields of green and gold, a big red barn filled with a variety of spunky animals living beneath a loft of hay, fluffy and spilling out from the rafters.
Rural life is nostalgic, wholesome, beautiful. After we had Charlie, I decided that I wanted some of that nostalgia. And, since the big red barn wasn't in the foreseeable future, I thought that surely we could handle a few animals.
Thankfully, Grandpa Bob was already on top of the situation - he aquired a small heard of Red Angus and let the boys choose thier bucket calves for 4-H. We (I) decided that having a small flock of chickens would also be a great addition to the farm, and it would offer the boys an additional educational experience.
Naturally, since we homeschool, I thought we would order the eggs for incubation and do a full-blown study on chickens. I might have been a little over ambitious, but we had to give it a shot. After spending hours researching and planning the entire project, I finally jumped in and ordered eggs of three different breeds from Stromberg's Chickens. All three varieties were typically cold hardy, good layers and docile in nature. A perfect fit for us.
After waiting and waiting, candling and candling some more, of the 30 eggs, only 6 appeared to be viable. I was beginning to have my doubts about this venture, and wondered if I was only capable of bringing forth human life!
Then, one morning, I went to the incubator to turn the eggs and what should I see but this little wonder looking back at me! Our sweet little Golden Laced Wyandotte chick had found it's way into the world!
It worked! The incubator worked, the eggs worked, the chick worked it's way out of the shell. Behold!! I can (help) bring non-human life into the world! Yahoo!!
Next, we had to find a place to keep the chicks safe and warm, away from Stella, our Golden Retriever. I found on Backyard Chickens (our new favorite website), a suggestion to keep the baby chicks in a large kennel until they are ready to be put outside. We have found this to work perfectly! With a infrared heat lamp, a bed of wood chips and fresh food and water, it's practially the Hilton!
The two chicks, behind the Wyandotte, are Black Austrolopes. We still have three eggs left, of the third variety which are Welsummers. I'm not sure if they're going to hatch, but we're keeping our fingers crossed! We keep joking about how the infrared light make the chicks look sunburned.
By far the best part of this adventure has been seeing George, a boy with a very sensitive, creative and thoughtful nature take such delight in caring for our new friends. Everyday he runs out to the shed several times to check that the light is set right, their water is fresh and the food is abundant.
It's amazing how animals have a unique way of bringing out the best in your kids. George immediately displays more confidence after he's taken care of his calf and the chicks. And when I pay him compliments on how well he is doing with our little projects, his grin is filled with pride and joy. I just love it!
Backyard Chickens community page. Isn't it lovely??