Chickens & babies

 

The pitter-patter of tiny footsteps in our household was until last year something that concerned the chickens that we keep in our back garden. Since our son’s birth just over a year ago, we have tried to introduce him to our chickens. Despite initially appearing not to be interested in them, he has gradually seemed to connect with them in a small way. This has been a bit of a relief as there is small child in our street who is a bit scared of one of our chickens as our feathered friend sometimes coughs and wheezes, which the little girl thinks means that our chicken is a bit like a dragon.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about how there are in fact quite a few things that babies and chickens have in common. Here are my top five examples:


1. They display a sense of curiosity as they settle in to their surroundings
. When our chickens set foot in our back garden, they expressed this by pecking around and gazing at the green chicken house with a slight air of uncertainty. In our son’s first few weeks after coming from hospital, I loved watching him look around as if he was slowly trying to take in his new surroundings. He looked a bit mystified about it all for a while as he got used to all the sights and sounds and it was fun trying to think about what was going through his mind.

At the age of one month, our son was still figuring out what to make of the living room wallpaper.

At the age of one month, our son was still figuring out what to make of the living room wallpaper.

2. Chickens and babies often want to explore places that they’re not supposed to explore. Even once he’d started crawling, we thought that it’d be reasonably easy to keep our son in the living room as there are two small steps that separate it from the kitchen, spare bedroom and bathroom. However, he quickly learned how to crawl up these steps and enjoys going into the spare room to empty the bookshelf. Our chickens’ exploration of places they shouldn’t be involves occasionally jumping over the garden fence to kick about the woodchip next to our next door neighbours’ patio. Thankfully shaking a tub of chicken food normally gets them scampering back to the right side of the garden fence.

Dorothy and Florence explore our next door neighbours' patio.

Dorothy and Florence explore our next door neighbours’ patio.

3. Messy eating. If messy eating were an Olympic event, I think that our one year old son could be a serious medal contender. As the photo below shows, he knows how to make a mess when eating. He has also been honing his food throwing techniques recently. That said, he never throws foods like grapes, blueberries and satsumas. Our chickens have been know to take messy eating to a whole new level by even walking in food that we have left them, something which our son hasn’t yet managed.

We have tried to persuade our son not to imitate our chickens' messing eating but I'm not sure that it's working.

We have tried to persuade our son not to imitate our chickens’ messing eating but I’m not sure that it’s working.

4. Random silliness. When we got our chickens a luxurious new chicken house that we refer to as Cluckingham Balance, they still decided to go to bed in their old house even though we left it in a corner of the garden with the front of it hanging open. They’ve also at times decided to go to sleep on top of a metal bin in the garden shed and on top of a gate in the middle of our garden. Our son seems to also like doing occasional silly things like flopping on top of his parents in bed very early in the morning in the sort of move that is reminiscent of American wrestlers. He has also taken to imitating the way that mummy says ‘oh dear’.

A chicken succesfully manages to photo bomb a picture of our son about to head off to the spare room to empty the bookshelf again.

A chicken succesfully manages to photo bomb a picture of our son about to head off to the spare room to empty the bookshelf again.

5. Both our chickens and our baby son have been fed in the living room. This is a regular occurence for our son, indeed he probably has most of his meals in the living room. Dorothy, our coughing and wheezing chicken, was a bit ill a year or two ago and we decided to bring her inside for a couple of nights as it was a bit cold. We fed her some medicine on a spoon and kept her in a ventilated cardboard box lined with wood shavings. This meant that we’d occasionally hear some quiet clucking and wheezing in the evenings when we were sitting on the couch watching television. I would like to assure all readers that we have never made our son sleep in a cardboard box lined with wood shavings – he has a very comfy cot.

Dorothy the chicken has a night in, in the living room.

Dorothy the chicken has a night in, in the living room.

Despite these similarities, there are some major differences between our baby son and our chickens. For a start, it took us a lot more time to agree on his name that it has done to name our chickens. We’ve deliberately given our chickens names that we like as chicken names but which we’d probably not give to a daughter, were we to have one. So far, the names that we have given to our chickens are Dorothy, Florence, Betsy and Myfanwy. If anyone has any suggestions for good names for future chickens, feel free to let us know via the comments below or write us a letter and put in a HENvelope (was anyone EGGSpecting another dad joke this week?).

 

Do you keep chickens or any other family pets? If so, how do your kids get along with them? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

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