Homesteading and Livestock

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Bickering in the Flock (Children and Chickens)

7/22/2013 4:37:00 PM

Tags: backyard poultry, Wendy E.N. Thomas, New Hampshire

two chicksThey’re at it again. It didn’t take long for the unstructured and sticky, humid-filled days of summer to get my teenage daughters to begin bickering with each other. Loud, teeth gnashing, and foot stomping taunts of “It’s your turn to wash the dishes," “I already called shot gun,"and “DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF!!!” ring out in the household as routinely as the hourly chime of my grandmother’s mantle clock.

It’s not that unexpected. Any parent will tell you that heat, oppressive humidity, and the sometimes close quarters of sharing the only cool space in the house can make even the strongest soul quarrelsome. If truth be known there are stiflingly days when I even want to turn to my daughters and shout “DON’T TOUCH *MY* STUFF, EITHER!!!!!”

I see this all the time in our flock. Flock mates who have peacefully shared a roosting bar, quietly and companionably whispering throughout the night, in daylight become mortal enemies capable of deep scratches and bruised feelings. It seems that no amount of mama hen correction will stop these birds when they are hot, and tired, and honestly feel that one chick might be getting preferential treatment over another.

“She got ice cream when I was visiting with a friend last week, you owe me ice cream!” Stamp. Stomp. Door slam and hot tears.

The only logical thing to do for the sanity of the entire flock is to lead the bickering hens to some cooling shade, make sure they have plenty of water to drink, activities to keep them busy, and yes, even allow them a treat every now and then. Parental guided direction being the temper’s balm.

And when they bicker, as much as possible, let them work it out between themselves. At the end of the day, with the setting sun comes cooler temperatures and my little hens, like my two teen daughters, will eventually retire exhausted to their bedrooms to giggle and share secrets with each other in the coolness of the dark until another day begins.

I write about lessons learned living with children and chickens in New Hampshire. You can follow our family's stories at my blog: Lessons Learned From the Flock.  

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