Last spring, my wife and I decided to get a few chicks to raise. We thought it would be a good learning experience for our daughter. Plus, we wanted to enjoy some fresh eggs.
For most of my life I have enjoyed raising animals on a small farm. When I was a kid, my dad raised sheep. At that time, I had chores that had to be done every day. As I got older, my dad sold the sheep and we got some pigs.
I remember dad telling me we had to take care of our livestock before we took care of ourselves because the animals depended on us for food and water. I learned a lot from working with animals on the farm, and I wanted my daughter to learn some of the valuable life lessons I did as a kid.
However, we did not get just a few chicks to raise. We ended up getting a lot of chicks, and some ducks and some turkeys. I do not completely understand how this happened. But, my wife has informed me it is called “chicken math,” which is, somehow a few chicks turn into many chickens, ducks and turkeys. I googled it and the internet tells me it is a thing, so it must be real.
At first, my daughter did a great job of helping with the chicks. She would take care of them and made sure they had plenty to eat and drink. This all started with the chicks in our house. As it got warmer, we eventually moved them to the garage. Finally, after an entire weekend of work creating a coop, we moved the entire flock into our barn.
My daughter enjoyed going out to the barn to feed and water the birds. When they started laying eggs, she would go out each day to help collect the eggs. She named many of the chickens and turkeys. My wife and daughter knew all of their names. I, however, never got to know them on a first name basis.
It was all going well until the roosters started acting like roosters. One day, the smallest rooster charged at my daughter. We taught our daughter how to handle it when the rooster charged her. Then, all of the roosters started to charge at her.
At this point, my daughter lost a lot of her interest in the flock. She did not want to collect the eggs unless I was beside her to protect her. The roosters learned pretty quickly that if they went after my daughter, they would have to deal with me. However, the roosters also understood if I was not with her, I could not protect her.
All of this made me remember the stories that my grandma would tell. My grandma, Helen Freeman, was the last girl raised in our house, which was over 100 years ago. She would tell stories of having to collect the chicken eggs. I heard many stories of some very mean roosters that would attack her. There was one story of a rooster chasing her across the entire farm. She said many times the roosters would “get her pretty good.”
I love that my daughter is able to experience some of what my grandma experienced on our farm. Even with a few scary rooster encounters, my daughter will still walk out to the barn and pick up one of the turkeys. I do not think the turkey would allow anyone else to pick him up.
I hope my daughter will learn some of the valuable lessons I learned raising animals. The lessons I learned many years ago have served me very well in life. I just hope this chicken math thing does not happen again this year.
Randall D. Fuller is judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Fuller is a life-long resident of Delaware County.