What do backyard chickens have to do with going back to school? Well, how about life science for one thing? Or baking lessons? Or learning responsibilities? We think the fall – and going back to school – is a perfect time to invest in backyard chickens.
Backyard Chickens and Life Science
If you choose to start your backyard chickens off with adult birds – hens with or without a rooster – you get eggs. That we all know. So where’s the life science involved? One aspect of learning life science is by incubating fertilized eggs – you will need a rooster for that. You can always skip the rooster and bid on hatching eggs on eBay.
Since Graywhale Farms is a hatchery, we started our flock with day-old chicks from Greenfire Farms and also hatching eggs that we incubate here. By the spring of 2023, we’ll have our own fertilized eggs to hatch from the hens and roosters we’ve raised.
Hatching eggs teaches you about humidity, warmth, and the perfect conditions for life to happen. It also teaches you that not every egg hatches. (On a recent hatch #14 didn’t make it and it brought me to my knees, crying in our organic garden. No joke. You remember your first loss.) Like most lessons, there is balance – not good and bad – but give and take. You can’t have life without the possibility of death.
If you order day-old chicks, you get to learn how quickly the chicks mature and watch the feathers develop on their little bodies. You have the opportunity for them to learn your voice (okay that’s maybe not strictly life science, but it is remarkable). You also learn that the average chicken is mature at 18 weeks (mature meaning she lays eggs) and that sometimes you have roosters – which, if your city doesn’t permit, you bring to the processor for chicken enchiladas.
Backyard Chickens and Baking Lessons
There is nothing like baking with fresh eggs. Nothing. Even adding fresh eggs (sub for part of the water) to a Krusteaz or Kodiak pancake mix is heaven. Heck, scrambled eggs are heaven. Or a fried egg sandwich. Clearly, I’m hungry.
Since backyard chickens are the only pets that pay rent, your family has an opportunity to use those eggs in cakes, lemon meringue pies, meatloaf, pasta, quiche, etc. Baking with eggs is a natural time to talk about the role of eggs in the science of baking as well as have a bit of fun. Well, science is always fun.
“When eggs are beaten, they can expand to a foam that’s up to eight times their original volume. Beaten egg whites hold millions of tiny air bubbles, which lift angel-food and sponge cakes, meringues, and souffles. Even in batters containing baking powder, beaten eggs whites are an additional source of leavening.” Exploratorium
We all did a lot of projects during the initial pandemic lockdown but don’t we sort of want to keep some of those good things? There’s nothing like baking with someone. And Kyle Clayton Gore’s Challah Recipe is so good. (Oh! I should make that at the farm!)
Backyard Chickens and Learning Responsibility
One of the things that strike me most about being on the farm – after a career in front of screens (okay I started on a typewriter) – is the peaceful urgency. “Peaceful urgency” sounds like an oxymoron or paradox but it’s the best way I can describe farm life.
My late husband grew up on a farm in the 1940s in Mesa, Arizona. His Great Depression Era Dad told him, “First you feed the animals, then you feed yourself.” I had completely forgotten that saying until I came to Graywhale Farms. Though, as a dog and now cat owner, I’ve lived by it.
As an example, this morning I woke up at 4:30 AM to feed the baby chickens. Then went back to sleep, waking up to feed the cat, and then take the dog out and feed him. After the animals at the big house were fed, I sat down for coffee, yogurt, and granola. You feed your backyard chickens (pets) and then you feed yourself. This instills responsibility, yes, but also a sense of purpose you can’t quite put your finger on.
You’ll Love Spending Time In Your Backyard
Like gray whales, Graywhale Farms is well-traveled and so are our chickens! Spending time in the backyard with family is so fulfilling, that you won’t notice the reduction in screen time.
From our hatchery to your backyard
Made in Door County.