May 19, 2024
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May 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Our Month Raising Chickens

When I decided to pull my kids out of camp and embark on this Camp Mommy adventure, I knew I would need to do something drastic and just a little crazy (or “wackadoodle,” as my husband lovingly refers to it) to help keep my kids engaged through the long sweaty days. A friend of mine posted about this amazing experience she had and I knew that we needed this experience too! I didn’t hesitate and booked our time with the chickens to start immediately after Zoom school ended, thinking it would help half of the summer pass less painfully (which ultimately it really did!).

With the Rent-a-Coop program you are provided with two one-week-old chicks, seven fertilized eggs, a cage, a huge tub of feed, several bales of shavings for cage cleaning and an incubator—really everything you would ever need to care for chicks-turned-chickens and anywhere from zero to seven chicks once they hatch (average is three chicks).

My kids waited (im)patiently in our front yard for Farmer Tom. None of us really knew what to expect, but we all knew it was going to be like nothing we had ever done before.

The first night the chicks cried all night and I was wondering if this was all a huge mistake. But it seems they must have been scared, because this only happened the first night.. The chicks really adapted very quickly to living with us.

Noam always played with the chicks first thing in the morning when he woke up. He loved them more than anyone. The chicks had totally different personalities. Lily was bold and curious and never content to just sit around, while James loved sitting with us and getting neck scratches.

On the first day you put the eggs into the incubator, which does the rest. It counts down from 21 days (the length of chick gestation), turning the eggs every 45 minutes (a hilariously loud process), until the last two days. My only job was to refill the water well every few days to keep it nice and humid in there.

The incubator coun­ted down to zero and there was nothing. I was starting to think we got dud eggs and discussed with the kids that this does happen sometimes. But then I noticed there was a hole in the egg and we could see a tiny beak and hear chirping.

A few hours later we had a hatched egg! The kids named it “Joe,” who was followed by Summer and Frank.

After 24 hours it was time to open the incubator! Behold, Joe, Summer, Frank, Lola and Daisy (in their hatch order).

There was a chick for everyone! I can’t believe how lucky we were. Frank was mine.

The kids were absolutely over the moon in love with these fluff balls, but I kept reminding them they wouldn’t stay this cute for long.

The chicks grew into “teenagers,” who loved to look out the window at the outside world.

The chicks were really endless entertainment. They were hilarious, adorable, with huge personalities and opinions. We loved every single second with these guys.

However, the big chickens started to get restless. I felt really wackadoodle with seven chickens roaming around my dining room. By the end we all knew they needed to go home to the farm (sadly!).

This was such an incredible whirlwind of an experience. I highly recommend it! We will have the memories from this unique period forever!

By Abby Cooper

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