February 5, 2014

Chicken Farm Visit

Every week or two, I drive to a neighboring farm and buy two dozen fresh, brown eggs.  The eggs are kept in a different building than the hens, so typically there is no "farm" interaction between us.  On this visit, I asked if we could see the chickens.  We had a great lesson!

Please note that our gracious hostess is Amish.  Amish folks do not want their photograph to be taken based on this commandment.  I do not know if they object to all photography.  However, I did not want to put my friend in an awkward position, so I opted to leave the camera behind.  No photographs of our farm visit will be in this post.  (I use the term "friend" loosely.  This neighbor and I only visit when I buy eggs, and it is not the sit-down-and-talk visit, just friendly chit-chat as she gives me the eggs.  I do have an Amish friend that I visit (and sit) with regularly.)


At this farm, the chicken barn is separate from the main barn for their cows and horses.  They milk the cows, but the horses are to pull their farm equipment and buggy.  (They have yet another building to refrigerate the eggs.)  The chickens are held in three different pens.  The largest pen had 800 chickens in it.  The others had 700 and 500 chickens, totaling 2,000 chickens.  A farm this size is not a commercial farm where the chickens are in cages.  Instead they share large rooms with several feeders and watering areas. Typically these chickens have a few open doors to go outside, but it was quite cold (single digits), and they were currently staying inside with the doors blocked.

As we went into the pens, I asked Brother and Big Sister questions.  Some of them were rather leading.  Big Sister, being older and wiser, knows lots, so I made sure to direct some of the questions right to Brother.  They figured out where the food and water was and even knew what the boxes were for along the walls.  However, they did have to be shown where to find the eggs, since a "door" had to be lifted.  A wheelbarrow of grain provided a bit of discussion, too.  As we wandered around, I also asked our hostess lots of questions.

The eggs had already been collected that morning, yet we still found quite a few eggs.  Big Sister even found one in the wood shavings (bedding) on the floor.  All of us, even Little Sister, age 2, held a warm egg in our hands.

The children pet a couple of chickens, but Big Sister was shown how to hold a chicken. (Brother was not interested.  Little Sister wasn't asked.)  Later, she even picked up a chicken on her own and held it.

We all appreciated our chicken "field trip."  It was unplanned, and I really appreciated our neighbor taking fifteen minutes to show us the chickens!  (She had been working to put the eggs in cartons when we interrupted.)  Afterward, we went home and had fresh scrambled eggs for lunch.  (Remember, I like easy meals!)  We all agreed that we had lots of fun and would like to return when it is warmer.  Even then, we'll still wear our boots!

Scary Mary and Big Chickens Fly the Coop are two chicken picture books we enjoy.  Maybe you will, too, even if they aren't educational.

Now I am wondering what spontaneous field trip we'll have next.  I am not a homeschooler, but I still know that much learning happens outside of the classroom!  

~ Annette {This Simple Mom}
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