Lots of people claim that they get backyard chickens to “teach their children about responsibility.” It’s a good way to do it. No one is harmed if you don’t vacuum your room, but if you don’t water the poultry, they’ll die.
I got my first hen when my oldest son was two. He’s now sixteen. However, I didn’t get chickens for him, or for his brother. I got them for me. I like doing the chores. I spent this morning cleaning out the coops and shoveling goat manure. I couldn’t have been happier. I like doing the daily feeding and scrubbing the waterers. My husband does too. Honestly, I haven’t wanted to share that with the kids. Terrible, isn’t it?
Still, the boys, somehow, have learned about putting other living creatures ahead of themselves. They’ve learned about how calming sitting with a hen can be. They know the sweet smell of goat breath. They do have chores, just not barn chores. Among other tasks, they vacuum (up a lot of dog hair!)
Once in awhile, they collect the eggs. You’d think, that after 14 years of bringing eggs into the kitchen, that my eldest would know the routine. But, as I said, my son is 16. There are teenage brain-lapses. A friend of his was over, so they went out to the coops to see the chickens, pet the rabbit, and play with the goats. The backyard animals are always the first stop for visitors. Even teenagers. More fun that a Wii. Anyway, he came in with three eggs and asked me where to put them. How he couldn’t know, after 14 years of bringing eggs into the kitchen, I don’t know. I was busy and didn’t look up. I said, a bit exasperated, “with the other eggs!”
I later asked him where the eggs were. He said, “in the fridge with the other ones, like you told me to.” After a bit of searching, I realized he’d put the freshly laid eggs in the bowl with the hard-cooked ones. Now how was I going to tell which was which? My morning routine is to eat a hard-cooked egg, first thing. I’m usually still half-asleep at 6:30. The jolt of protein helps. I cook up a big batch once a week. I didn’t want to wake up to a raw egg. From the outside, they look the same. How to tell which was which? Take a flashlight and shine it on the egg. A Raw egg looks translucent. A cooked egg is opaque.