I’ve always been an animal lover. Not to the extend that I would bring home random animals – that is my cousin – but in the sense that I’ve always had a dog or two and would probably have added some cats in if I weren’t allergic.
I would pick up stray dogs on the street and try to find their owners – without fear that they would maul me. I once found a soaking wet dog during a thunderstorm with tornado sirens going off that I promptly picked up and put in my mother’s brand new car with leather seats. My mother wasn’t thrilled, but we found that dog’s owner when the storm subsided.
I was a normal animal lover. I had really no idea that I could love a bird. Yet, I do and so do my kids.
Our chickens are in the awkward tween years, but just like any mother, I still think they’re pretty cute.
Outside with farm kids and chickens
Our first experience taking them outside was an adventure.
I bought a cage for the basement
as temporary housing now that they are bigger, and we took part of that outside so we could keep them safe while out there. I wanted them to have the experience of feeling fresh grass, having the dirt under their feet, the warm breeze through their feather and the sunshine on their backs.
I wanted to make sure they had this experience safely and right now that means caged.
Our free-range plans flew the coop
My original plan was to free range the chickens. However, after going through one season here – and winter at that – I can already tell that free-ranging them won’t be safe until they’re much larger and unless I can be there watch them. During the winter we saw plenty of evidence of larger, meat-eating animals like foxes and coyotes. Our property seems to have a lot of wildlife living on it (which is great!), but even now with just a touch of warmer weather we have constantly been spotting large hawks too. Caged is safer for now.
How the chickens acted
Once outside the girls were a bit unsure of themselves.It was over 65 degrees so I knew they weren’t cold. I think they were just uneasy with all the newness around them. Wind, grass, mud, sun – all of it was a glorious change for them than the living basement quarters. Even though they have plenty of light down there, the rest of the outdoor elements are MIA so watching them experience it for the first time was a real joy.
They huddled together at first, chirping loudly before realizing the could dig around in the grass. We saw them fight over a piece of grass, which they thought was a worm, and laughed as they explored their little, square of the property. I can only imagine the summer they will have once we have the coop up and a proper run.
How the kids acted
The kids were unsure about how to interact with them out there. They wanted to hold them and snuggle them. I explained that our girls need to have some time to explore, peck the ground and maybe even scratch for some bugs. Besides, the girls are also getting too big to hold like they are babies and snuggle in the same way.
Dreamy farmhouse life
But once the kids realized they had to give our feathered pets some space, they sat back and enjoyed the show too. I sat back and watched them, realizing that this moment was exactly the kind of moment we wanted for them when we purchased the farmhouse.
There was something magical about it. The way the sun was shining on them, the way they were giggling and the way they seemed to just be enjoying life right at that moment.
It was one of those moments you see in a dream. Sort of hazy and happy and nostalgic in a way that you can’t exactly remember.
Coming here, I wanted them to have a childhood surrounded by nature and a childhood that included exploring nature in a big backyard, gardening to create food for the table and raising animals. I wanted to help them learn to create a more cohesive lifestyle that would support the planet.
It seems this experience with our teenage chickens is the start of all those wants. It’s a time that will be filled with moments and memories like these.
A year from now, I wonder how many other unimaginable and “ridiculous” things will have happened.
For more experiences with our chickens, click HERE
. To learn more about our family experiences, click HERE