Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Striking A Chord With. . .Caterpillars?

Little Sprouts Visit Doodle Doo Farmette      
When I received the email from my friend, "May I bring my grandsons for a visit?" I was so excited that I could barely contain my enthusiasm. "Of course," I responded and scheduled a time.

The only people who have visited Chicken Women's coop to date have been adults. Don't get me wrong. I love adults, but I love children even more. Everything is so new and fresh for them. Their worlds are filled with "firsts"--first tooth, first day of school, first bike ride, first win.

Knowing the kids were suburban kids, I figured this was probably the boys first time seeing live chickens. I decided it was my responsibility to make sure their "first" experience with chickens was good. 

But, how was I going to do that?

I started with the standard thing: tidying up the coop. I raked out the shavings and spread a new, poop-free layer. I even added in a topping of  hay-grass to give the coop that "authentic farm" look.

Then, I went to the local home improvement store and purchased two metal buckets with handles. I found some Easter basket straw (the miracle of this is not to be underestimated) and lined the buckets with it. 

On Monday morning, about an hour before they all arrived, I took 10 freshly-laid eggs out from the  refrigerator, wiped off the condensation on them, and put them in the nesting box. Because only one of my hens is currently laying, I didn't want the boys to be disappointed if there were no eggs or, heaven forbid, just one in the box. (When there're two children, you have to make sure everything's even.)

When the boys arrived, they were wide-eyed and ready to go. They grabbed their metal buckets and began tromping up the hill. (That was, after a quick look in the box holding the newbie chicks.)  I asked the boys if one of them would like to open the coop's door, but they both said "no". I explained that every morning I had to let the chickens out, fill their water fount and top off their food pellets. They listened attentively and then jumped aside as the hens skedaddled their little rear ends out of the coop and right past them.

I gave the boys each a scoop of scratch and seeds and had them throw it downhill. The hens were overjoyed. The boys' faces held curious looks that seemed to say "well, this is different and it might be fun."

Then, I took them inside the coop and told them they could look for eggs. They soon filled up their baskets with the "planted" eggs and then headed out the door. "The Coolest of Cool" (according to his t-shirt) decided that if you could throw scratch and seeds downhill, then the bucket of eggs, too, might be best thrown over. His nimble mother caught the bucket handle just before the eggs went tumbling.

Only a few eggs cracked from impact before we made it down the hill.

We ended up on my backyard patio, where the hens were soon forgotten because a yellow jacket was flying around and swallowtail caterpillars were eating passionfruit leaves. The boys examined the leaves, mesmerized by the caterpillars' colors, their legs, and the fact they soon would be turning into butterflies. 

Their fascination prompted me to punch holes in a mason jar and add in some passion fruit leaves and one very large swallowtail caterpillar. The jar was sent home with the boys. When the visit was finished, I think there was no doubt the caterpillars won out over the chickens.

But, isn't that how it goes with children? We never know what's going to strike a chord. As adults, our job is to keep offering children a wide variety of "firsts." The kids? They'll figure out how to take it from there.

P.S. I want to thank my friend, her daughter, and her adorable grandsons for coming over. What a gorgeous and gracious family. And, what a beautiful start it was to my week.

1 comment:

  1. At last report, caterpillar building a cocoon....voracious little thing.