Within a few months of moving to the country, our lovely neighbour welcomed a flock of ducklings. Much to my daughter’s wide-eyed delight, we were invited to visit whenever we wanted.
Naturally this open invitation was accepted in the most determined of ways. We visited after breakfast, on the way home from school, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. My daughter was relentless and who can blame her? Those tiny fluffy ducklings were irresistibly cute – scurrying around their proud mama and growing more confident with each day.
“You should get some wee chicks for your bairn,” my neighbour gently encouraged me as we watched my daughter with the ducklings. A couple of months later, a lady in the village popped by with a little ball of yellow fluff for us to admire. It was a new chick, just a few days old -my daughter was enraptured and desperate to hold her.
And so, it was duly decided that we would make a home for this little chick, along with mama hen and the chick’s four siblings.
We set about preparing for their arrival. My daughter was delighted to be learning new skills – life skills that involved being outdoors, working with her hands and caring for animals.
In truth, keeping backyard chickens is one of life’s simple pleasures – as long as you have some space, shelter and time to devote to looking after them. And there is so much to gain: a nod to self-sufficiency, delicious fresh eggs and the heart-warming sight through the kitchen window, of happy little lives, contentedly pecking away.
If you’re feeling brave enough, you can leave your hens to sit on their eggs just like we did – and welcome chicks of your own three weeks later.
Why not give it a go?
Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide to Enjoying and Getting the Best from Chickens
by Jeremy Hobson and Celia Lewis (2007)
Click here to purchase from Amazon.co.uk