Spring brings lessons on chicks - and roosters gone wild
March 1, 2007 - I'm not quite ready to believe that spring is in the air. I'll need another nightly news scare that global warming is going to kill us all followed by a big cold snap before I'll accept that winter is over. Still, the signs that spring is approaching are all around us.
Here in our Hallwood homeschool, spring means garden planning, and this year I'm determined to start more plants from seeds. I've lured the girls into planning along with me, and now our windowsills are covered in egg cartons full of potting soil and germinating seeds. Of course, there are the baby chicks.
If you don't think that one of the smells of spring is a cage full of baby chicks, well, I guess you haven't really experienced life in the country. I remember boxes full of chicks from my childhood, warmed by a heating pad and an overhead light. They were a constant source of both noise and entertainment.
A few years ago, I convinced Brian that our own box full of baby chicks would be a welcome addition to our kitchen. I have no idea why he goes along with some of my ideas, but he does.
I was especially surprised that he went along with the chicken caper given his background. Don't tell him I told you, but he has, shall we say, rooster issues, stemming from a pair of incidents that you should ask him about any time you see him. He loves to share - really.
That first batch of chickens we raised in the kitchen turned out to be half roosters. I thought it might send Brian over the edge, but we ended up taking the roosters down to the feed store where we traded them in for a wagon. Such is life in the country.
Still, I was more than a little surprised that Brian was the one pushing for a fresh box of baby chicks this year. I think he said something about a good learning experience, but I'm not sure if he meant for us or for the kids.
As the saying goes, some folks get up with the chickens. I am not one of them, but at least one of those folks apparently works for the U.S. Postal Service. The day after we placed our order with the hatchery, we got a call at 6:08 a.m. telling us our newest science experiment had arrived. Brian collected the chicks, and the kids helped me convert an old drawer into a chicken nursery.
Alyona made it clear that she'd rather play with chicks than research them, but she grudgingly looked up a few things to satisfy an assignment. Then one evening we came home to find that three of our 25 chicks were near death.
Our daughter became an instant nursemaid, hitting the Internet for information and advising us all on how to properly care for her little patients. Fortunately, there is no CPR for chickens or we might have tried it. Soon after, they peeped their last peeps.
At some time during the chick rescue efforts, we realized that, like many experiences in life, reading the instructions before getting started might have been a good idea. When Alyona read the part about the chicks staying inside the house for five weeks, I felt a wave of panic. It was easy to remember the last time we had cute baby chicks in the house, not so easy to recall teenaged chickens.
Once again, Brian was right. This is turning into a great learning experience - but I'm still not sure if he means for us or for the kids.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Hallwood. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brian can be reached at his charcoal grill, dreaming up recipes for “Rooster McNuggets.”