Spring Chickens

April 28, 2010

Yesterday was a perfect spring day, except that we were out of cat food.  I had been watching my granddaughter, Sophia (who is 9 years old), for the day.    I asked her if she wanted to go to Mason City to go shopping and pick up some cat food to which she replied, “Can we go to Tractor Supply Co and get some baby chickens?”   Here is where the real story begins.  Baby chickens are quite the responsibility and I wasn’t sure I was up to the task.  They need heat, a safe place to sleep out of reach from natural predators as well as food and water.  We already have two flocks of chickens in our yard now with two separate houses.  Where would we put these new babies if I agreed to allow Sophia to get them?

spring chickens 2

I thought about bribing her with a new Barbie instead, but then I realized that she needed these baby chicks.  She needed that experience of caring for them, taming them, and loving them.  Our other baby chicks have always had their mother hens to keep them safe.  Sophia would be able to have her chance to experience real responsibility with these new babies.  She would serve as their mother hen.

We stopped at Tractor Supply Co. in Mason City and I told her we would just look and if we decided to get some chicks we wouldn’t get more than three for sure.  We didn’t need any and I thought that Grandpa might be furious with me if we came home with more than that.  He had said that he didn’t want me to buy any

spring chickens 3

chicks at this time because we have hens that will be hatching baby chicks out later this spring.   However, Sophia had birthday money she wanted to spend.  When we entered the store we heard peeping and it lured us toward a tank in the back that held 6 yellow fuzzy baby chicks.  We bought all six.   We were told at the counter that they are all Bantams.  We don’t currently have that kind so it will be easy to tell which So
phia’s are when they grow up and join the rest of the flock.

Grandpa wasn’t angry with me either.  He was as excited as Sophia was and went about setting up a tank with golden fresh straw, special baby chick feeders and waters and rigged it with a heat lamp so they would be cozy and warm.   Sarah called me that night and said that Sophia was so happy about her new baby chicks she even told her that it had been the best day of her life!  It really was the perfect spring day with brand new baby chicks for my granddaughter.

This guest blog is written by Phyllis Willis in Thornton, Iowa.  She and Paul Willis were the first hog farmers supplying Niman Ranch in the early 1990’s and eventually formed the Niman Ranch Pork Company, building a network of farmers to supply the increasing demand for Niman Ranch Pork.  The Dream Farm is surrounded by farmland they took out of production and placed into the Wetlands Reserve Program.  It is a breathtaking vision of native Iowa prairie bustling with activity.

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