What life lessons can littles learn from raising chickens?
When we first embarked on our backyard chicken journey, we never imagined all the amazing life lessons chickens would teach us and our children valuable life lessons. We thought it would be interesting and educational for our kids to experience incubating eggs and learning about the life cycle in the most hands-on way possible. That doesn’t even scratch the surface to the important life lessons our chickens taught us! Here are the top three life lessons our children have learned from raising backyard chickens:
Life Lesson 1: Good things are worth the wait
In a world of instant gratification, it’s so great for children to have the experience of WAITING for something special. There’s no hurrying an incubating egg. Those 21 days can feel really, REALLY long when you’re little and desperately want to meet a baby chick. Our boys spent hours staring at the incubator, wondering if a real bird was truly growing bigger each day inside the shell and wondering how in the world it would peck its way out. The ideas and conversations shared around the incubator were endearing and full of hopes, dreams, and wishes. When hatch day finally arrived, there was more joy than we anticipated and everyone promptly fell in love.
Life Lesson 2: Nature knows best
While the boys anxiously awaited the hatching of every chick, we did have one egg that never hatched. There was a lot of pondering about what might have happened to stop the egg from hatching. Perhaps that egg wasn’t kept warm enough (but the incubator says the temperature!). Maybe the egg was never fertilized (but we saw it growing when we candled the eggs!). What if there was something wrong with the chick and it just couldn’t survive? Our boys are 7, 5 and 3 and they already understood so much about the scientific process. We waited an extra few days to be 100% positive the egg wasn’t going to hatch and then we investigated the unhatched egg. It was a fully formed chick with no heartbeat. Our boys held it with such tenderness and care and we had a deep conversation about life and death and how everything that lives eventually dies and returns to the earth and supports the growth of other living things. Experiencing the circle of life, death and grief is a lifelong process and it’s never too early to understand that nature knows best.
Life Lesson 3: Treat others the way you’d like to be treated
We all know and appreciate the golden rule, right? I think all parents would agree that imparting this on our children is of utmost importance. However, I often found myself talking to my children about this in terms of siblings and friends and it was so much more powerful for the boys to practice this with real live chicks. The boys thought about the chicks constantly. Every time we sat down to a meal, they would make sure the chicks were fed. “Mama, if we’re hungry then the chicks must be, too!” Fresh water and bedding were never a chore because we talked about how nice it is for us to have clean water and a clean bed each night. When the chicks would get into scuffles, the boys would separate the chicks to protect them. The boys slept near the coop every night because they didn’t want the chicks to be lonely. The connection and bond the children felt to the chicks grew exponentially every day and so did their empathy and compassion for all living things.
If you’re on the fence about raising chickens, let me tell you, it was the best decision we’ve ever made. There are countless resources to support backyard chicken farming and the entertainment “chicken TV” provides to people of all ages is real! We’ve learned so much from our chickens and we can’t wait to see what more these sweet chickens will teach us.